Earth looked at the Saber class starship with a mix of approval and frustration. The Saber class was excellent at patrols, Light SAR , and anti-raider work. The Saber class was a decent design, it's systems could handle some hacking and field modification, but it wasn't a multirole starship.
This ship is a small multirole ship. It can handle scouting and science missions. Its armament is generic for its size. It was not intended to go into the line of battle. In combat it is adequate. Starfleet knows trouble can find any ship at any time, but the Nova class emphasizes a different role.
Like the Saber it is meant to be a new ship to fill jobs that were done by Miranda and Centaur class starships, only with an emphasis on exploration and science, with patrolling as a secondary function.
Nova class ships are not as common as Sabers, but they are cheap, and a good way to have a lot of people out in space to greet new problems and surprises.
Nova class starships can be found on the edge of the Federation, conducting mapping surveys or scientific investigations. They can also be found deeper in the Federation, transiting to and from areas of investigation. Sometimes Nova class ships will be assigned patrol duties, as well.
The first run of Nova class ships were named after Specific stellar objects of scientific interest. Afterwards, they were named for Starfleet Personnel who advanced science.