The Federation Science Council began research into the possibility of digitizing living beings and storing them within data modules. This was accomplished through the use of transmutation beams and biomagnetic recordings, which allowed the details of every living cell of an organic being to be stored in a special crystal. This information was thus stored in the crystal which, when put into a re-transmuter, allowed the being to be restored precisely as it was prior to the recording. The nature of the project meant that it was highly classified and declared secret because the slightest interference could result in the damage of the unit and the loss of whatever bio-signatures were located within it. The capacity of Project Atlas allowed it to store all the inhabitants of a planet within a spherical data module with ease.
In 2267, the Federation made use of its experimental Project Atlas technology as part of an evacuation attempt of the planet Styra which was facing a world threatening crisis. The USS Enterprise was dispatched on the mission to ensure that Atlas was used to save the native Styrans from extinction. James T. Kirk learned of the Project's existence through a classified recording and presentation from Doctor Lanugu with a demonstration of the technology when a large black terrier dog was recovered from its bio-signature recording.
The entirety of the Styran race underwent the transmutation process which meant that a handheld sphere contained the bio-signatures of 600 million people within itself. This sphere was stolen by Allura who delivered it to her mad brother Anzar who sought to ransom the inhabitants of Styra. However, first officer Spock of the USS Enterprise, who allowed himself to be captured by Anzar, deployed Captain Kirk and a security team in Anzar's base through the Atlas technology. (TOS comic: "The Hijacked Planet")
- Atlas was the Greek god who carried the world on his shoulders, symbolizing how the technology was used to rescue the entire population of an endangered world. The applications of the technology seem similar to the capability of transporters to store a pattern of individuals in stasis, or how V'Ger digitized its enemies into an information format for later restoration.