THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 35
…”As we fly to zero latitude and zero longitude, on to the Plain of Xanthe, the horizon vista is psylastic!”...
Surprisingly, or maybe not so much, both the turbulence and blinding sand lessen the closer they get to the surface. As the drop to 30K and finally 5, the landmarks resemble those in the mockups, not unlike driving thru a town you have passed thru before.
“Things are improving steadily Mission Control, descending the final 5K… and there you go…the dunes of Mare Erythraeum, one peak in the range…” He stops to look over to Celeste, asking, “Am I seeing things?”
She gives him a “I see the same thing,” nod.
“I repeat. One mountain in the range of 20 thousand in elevation appears to have clouds encircling its summit.” He double checks his visual.
The unexpected is fast becoming rule rather than the exception. Earth is unusually mute, as co-eyewitnesses to an unexpected development.
The Master and Madame of this eye-popping peepshow continue their thrust-by-thrust description of this brave new venue. “As we fly to zero latitude and zero longitude, on the Plain of Xanthe, the horizon vista is psylastic!”
“The P is silent.”
“Now you are making up words! I will add that to the Red Planet Dictionary, you concentrate on the landing,” Braden King exhorts.
“When you spot Syrtis Major, come about to begin final approach of Tithonius Lacus,” adds Roy Crippen.
In the background, the upcoming New Mayflower colonist mission geologist is babbling on about the water vapor. Nothing, none, zero, not any of the earlier observations has posited that gaseous forms of water were present on Mars.
Onsite observations are off the charts, Colony Control conversations titillating, and the possibilities innumerable, but Roy must set the subjectivist notions aside to keep abreast of the landing.