THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 36

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 36

…“Pull up Sam,” Colony Control sees the same obstacle in the landing zone on real-time feed…


Onsite observations are off the charts, Colony Control conversations titillating, and the possibilities innumerable, but Roy must  keep abreast of the landing.Colony Control

Tycho had already reached the prominence of Syrtis Major, which looks like a dust-covered garden without the greenness of an ecosystem, with the helm responding to a 180 degree command, negotiating a wide sweeping turn that heads it across a desert-like sea of indigenous reddish {soil}. These and other features mark the Tithonius Lacus landing threshold.

Sampson has the lander that could, skimming at 350 foot altitude as they cruise handily across the Plain of Xanthe; a rather dull ending to what had been to this point a most enlightening flight. One thousand feet of “desert” is anything but exciting, but distractions are not necessarily a good thing, when landing is the objective.

Celeste is manning a forward monitor, the very vantage view enjoyed by those back closer to the sun. As they slow to airspeed of 220 mph, her right index circles a proper landing spot on the touchscreen at her disposal. The area she has chosen is about the size of an old American Football field, relatively flat with a good view of all horizons.

So, without fanfare or even a single Martian marching band led ticker-tape parade, “Okay Cel, I am putting her down rrriiiggghhtt heeeere,” pre-programed landings are for sissies.

Just as they were slowing to nominal airspeed, a misshapen mound appears out nowhere; small enough to mars-surface2blend in, but big enough to avoid.

“Pull up Sam,” Colony Control sees the same obstacle in the landing zone on real-time feed:
NASA Digital. No more 5 minute delay.

“…that did not show on the graphics, absolutely did not show on our flyover,” out of what had been to be flat ground. Like a mirage, it has abruptly reared itself into their intended way.dust-storm-on-mars

Fortunately the pilot clears the phantasm by fully 5 feet, which is not much considering he had applied full vertical thrust. The fiery blast raises huge amounts of red-hewed particles which ride the lightweight air, obscuring the area, thus moving the landing further down range.




Conquering the Sun’s Empire by Harry Lange

Episode 36

page 35

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