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The Kataan probe was an artifact created by the Kataan, humanoids on a planet appearing to be on the cusp of post-industrial revolution. Though there was no strong evidence of heavy manufacturing and the lifestyle of its citizens more closely resembled a pre-industrial agrarian society, they were sufficiently advanced to create interstellar probes.
At the time of its demise the people of the Ressik community, realizing that their sun was about to go nova, launched such a probe containing a memory record of their civilization and a Ressikan flute, native to their culture. This probe later encountered Captain Jean-Luc Picard and transferred its memory record to him, giving him the life experiences of Kamin in a matter of minutes.
The device carried no exterior markings and was launched in the 14th century from a location close to the community of Ressik in a missile. Kamin was present when the probe was launched. His wife Eline carried a pendant on a necklace that resembled the probe's exterior shape.
The origin of the probe could be traced by programming a Federation probe to follow the radioactive trail left behind by the propellant. The probe traced the path of the Kataan probe to the Kataan star system in the Silarian sector.
The probe emitted a nucleonic beam, a particle transmission that sent Kamin's memories to a host, in this case Captain Picard. After the transmission was finished, the probe shut down and was tractored into shuttlebay 2 aboard the USS Enterprise-D. (TNG: "The Inner Light")