THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 245

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 245

The Eridanian Solution that ultimately saved two lives of Earth was not news for Earth to share in…

The irony of death, as it concerns the space program, is that the numbers are bloated. Four people are killed every seven minutes by such ordinary things like ground transportation and only immediate family and friends bother to notice. Should you lose four lives in space, the detractors of exploration cry “foul” and the world mourns.

All able hands are on deck at Lovell Space Center, tethered together by the hope that Stellar Explorer would begin to come-about, to make the wide sweeping turn necessary to return to Earth.

That torturous fifteen minutes proves to be the longest q~u~a~r~t~e~r  h~o~u~r on record. If those with the most dogs in the fight, namely Roy, Francine, and Mindy McDonald, if they could possibly hold their breath the entire time, they may have.

The perceived passing of the next few digital ticks eclipses the previous ones.

But in this poignant moment, the loved ones of Deke & Gus McKinney, as well as awaiting world, exhale; emptied of any remaining dioxides and positivity. They draw another bated breath when the Stellar Explorer blasts through the heliopause and continues on without slowing down.

If those on Earth could only be comforted by the truth; that this perceived disaster had actually been averted… the Eridanian solution that ultimately saved two lives of Earth was not news for Earth to share in and neither will they see the benefits from it, at least until that miracle can be properly sew into the fabric of the current timestem.

If that withheld truth be known, their flagging souls would have been buoyed by the fact that in thirty months, 2 1/2 years, The Space Family McKinney will be reunited once again!

Until and when that truth is revealed to them, scar tissue will form around a wound that is permanently deep and painful beyond belief.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 245


page 220 (end ch. 10)

Titanic Stories – WIF Into History

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Incredible Stories

of People Who

Survived the Titanic

The Titanic set out to make headlines as the largest ship on Earth, sailing on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic in April of 1912. Instead, it made history of a different sort as one of history’s greatest follies. The ship hit an iceberg on its fourth day – exactly 105 years ago today, to be exact – 400 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia, and sank within two hours and forty minutes. Somewhere in the ballpark of 1,500 unfortunate victims, who mostly died by being in extremely cold, 28 degree (Fahrenheit) water. If you thought water couldn’t get colder than freezing, think about salt.

 But looking deeper at the history of the Titanic, you’ll find complex tales of people who acted decisively when an unforeseen catastrophe struck. You’ll see just over 700 stories of people who survived a disaster that might not have made it out of the Atlantic alive if not for a bit of luck. Among those fortunate survivors were…

10. Frank Prentice – Crew (Assistant Storekeeper)

Right before the Titanic made its final plunge into the ocean, the ship’s stern rose perpendicular to the water briefly, before sinking back down. It was there that crewman Frank Prentice, one of the last people to make it off the Titanic alive, decided to jump off with two of his comrades. One of his associates suffered a painful fall by hitting the propeller on the way down, but Prentice made it clear 100 feet down, where he stuck with his dying friend in the water before eventually being picked up by a lifeboat.

Prentice’s story is easy to verify, because his watch stopped at 2:20 a.m. – the exact minute that the Titanic sank. Remarkably, Prentice survived a second shipwreck when serving aboard the Oceanic in the First World War.

9. The Eight 3rd Class Chinese Passengers

One thing you’ll be surprised by, if you read the actual history of the Titanic evacuation, is that it was a highly civilized process. A lot of people followed the orders of the officers and were happy to give up their seats on the lifeboats for women, children, and the less fortunate without being prompted. If you want to hypothetically explore your chances of survival on an early 20th century shipwreck if you threw chivalry out the window, look no further than the eight Chinese passengers who all sailed under a single ticket. The band of Cantonese sailors were put out of work due to the coal strike and were on their way back to Hong Kong.

Their names varied, depending on various immigration records. When the iceberg struck, seven of them simply snuck into the lifeboats before they were prepped for unloading and hid under the blankets. Five made it out alive. The eighth sailor was picked up out of the sea by the life boat 14 (the one that picked up Harold Phillimore – we’ll get to him shortly). Combined with the survival of the Titanic’s sole Japanese passenger, the chances of an Asian surviving the Titanic was a pretty solid 7 for 9.

8. Olaus Jorgensen Abelseth – 2nd Class Passenger

Olaus Jorgensen Abelseth was a Norweigan-born livestock farm herder in South Dakota who was returning from a trip to visit relatives when he boarded the Titanic with five family members. One of the ways that an adult male could have found a place on the lifeboats when the Titanic sank was to have ample sailing experience, since the crew could only be stretched so far on the 20 lifeboats they needed to deploy.

Abelseth had six years of experience as a fisherman and considered answering the call for sailors, but his brother-in-law and cousin said they couldn’t swim so he decided to stay with them to ensure everyone’s survival in his family. When the ship went under, Abelseth got caught up in a line and lost hold of his family members. He swam twenty minutes in the water before finding his way to a lifeboat, and worked to revive boat occupants who had also been in the icy water while on the boat.

7. Hugh Woolner and Mauritz Björnström-Steffansson – 1st Class Passsengers

Hugh Woolner and Mauritz Björnström-Steffansson were sitting in the smoking room when they heard the fatal iceberg collision. After escorting one of their female friends to the lifeboats and helping with the unloading process, they waited on the lower deck as the boats were going down and decided to make a jump onto the last lifeboat as it was being lowered. This was within 15 minutes of the Titanic’s eventual demise, so it was pretty much a “now or never” attitude.

Bjornstrom-Steffanson made it on board but Woolner hit the side of the boat and bounced off. His fingers briefly caught the side but slipped, when Steffansson grabbed him as he was dangling over the ocean. He was eventually helped onto the boat. It must have been a dramatic site.

6. Charles Joughin – Crew (Chief Baker)

Most people in the 28 degree water died of hypothermia within 15 to 30 minutes, but Charles Joughin is a testament that every rule of nature has exceptions. Joughin took to drinking when the Titanic hit the iceberg (although to his credit, he also was quite helpful in throwing deck chairs into the sea so people would have floatation devices) and when the ship went under, Joughin casually swam around for over two hours until making his way to one of the life boats at the crack of dawn.

 Survival experts link Joughin’s success to the way that the alcohol raised his body temperature, and the fact that he claimed to never have his head fully submerged in the water. Some critics doubt just how long Joughin was in the water but the fact remains that eye witnesses on the lifeboat saw him swimming after the ships were adrift.

5. Richard Norris Williams – 1st Class Passenger

Richard Norris Williams was traveling first class to a tennis tournament in the States with his father. After the iceberg hit, the two remained relatively low-key, asking for the bar to be opened up and passing time in the exercise room (they did also stop to rescue a trapped passenger), but that didn’t make the actual sinking any less dramatic. Richard watched his dad crushed by a funnel, before being carried away by the resulting wave to what was known by the ship’s schematics as Collapsible A. It was one of two boats that didn’t have time to be properly loaded.

In this case, the boat capsized before turning right side up and was filled with water. Norris’s legs were so debilitated from the water that the doctor aboard the Carpathia recommended amputation. He decided against it, and eventually worked his legs back to functionality. He ended up continuing a tennis career that saw him winning the 1924 Olympic gold medal. He also served with distinction in World War I.

4. Rhoda “Rosa” Abbott – 3rd Class Passenger

Everyone knows the “women and children” first rule, but what many don’t know is that it was even crueler than you think. If you were 13 or older you were no longer considered a child, and that didn’t sit well with 3rd class passenger and mother Rhoda Abbott, who was not planning on abandoning her two sons, aged 13 and 16. A soldier with the Salvation Army and strong-willed single mother, Rhoda grabbed each one by the hand and jumped over the rail as the ship was going down.

When she emerged, neither of her sons had surfaced with her. They were both taken by the undertow. Like Norris Williams, Abbott surfaced to Collapsible A, which meant that her legs were also in decrepit condition. She spent two weeks hospitalized but holds the distinction of being the only woman to fall into the Atlantic from the Titanic and survive.

3. Harold Charles Phillimore – Crew (Seward)

James Cameron’s creation of Rose Decatur (played by Kate Winslet) is fictional , but her inspiration might have come from Seward Harold Phillimore, who was discovered clinging to a piece of floating debris among a sea of dead bodies by the last lifeboat to go back for survivors.

Phillimore shared the piece of driftwood with another man (unlike Rose, who selfishly let the love of her life go), but over the course of the 45 minutes between the Titanic’s sinking and his eventual rescue the other man (whose name is lost to history) suddenly drifted off into the ocean. Phillimore ended up having a distinguished career on the sea, earning the Mercantile Marine War and General Service medals.

2. Harold Bride – Marconi Wireless Company

Harold Bride was one of two telegraph operators for the Marconi Wireless Company, whose job was mainly to pass along messages between the ship’s passengers and the mainland. But he was also obligated to pass along navigational messages and warnings from other ships. This would make Bride and colleague James Phillips the MVPs for working the telegraph like there was no tomorrow. They were even given permission to abandon their posts, but stayed on until the ship’s very last minutes.

It was only as the water was filling up their room that they started to notice it was time to go. Both men made it onto the ship’s last lifeboat, known by the ship’s schematics as Collapsible B, which was turned upside down in the water. Bride’s feet were so crushed and  frozen he could barely make it up the rescue ladder when the Carpathia came.

As he passed a dead body getting up the ladder, he later realized that it was his comrade Phillips, who had passed during the night. Bride didn’t like talking about the Titanic because he was “deeply disturbed by the whole experience, particularly by the loss of his colleague and friend Jack Phillips.”

1. Charles Lightoller – 2nd Officer

Charles Lightoller started a life on the sea with an apprenticeship at the age of 13 and had already been to hell and back by the time he sailed with the Titanic as its second officer. By the time he signed on to the White Star line, he had already survived a shipwreck in Australia, a cyclone on the Indian ocean, and had to hitchhike all the way from Western Canada to England when he was unsuccessful in prospecting for gold in the Yukon and completely broke.

 When the ship hit the iceberg, Lightoller was one of the first to start lowering lifeboats. At around 2:00 a.m. (20 minutes before the sinking), he was ordered by his superior officer to get into the lifeboat, to which he replied, “not damn likely.” He eventually swam to the overturned Collapsible B and maintained order and morale among survivors who had all been thrown into the Atlantic, and prevented it from capsizing by having the men rock from side to side. Lightoller was the very last person to be rescued form the Titanic nearly four hours after the Carpathia picked up its first survivor. As the most senior officer to survive, he was also the star witness at the congressional hearing.

Titanic Stories

– WIF Into History

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 221

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 221

…Ekcello is trying to find a way to communicate with the least accessible of the three off-worlders…

“She is sleeping Sammy, just sleeping,” Father Sam explains to his daughter.

It was a torturous five-some-odd minutes, during which the Eridanians had re-closed their eyes and seemed to concentrate on Celeste. At the conclusion of this quietness, she momentarily returns to her family.

“They want us to follow them Sam. Please trust them.” Celeste collapses into his apprehensive arms.

He makes intense eye contact with them as if to say, “If you hurt either of my girls, you will regret it.”

Ekcello must have got the crude message and determined it as anxiety. For the first time, Sampson finds out what it is like to “Talk” with these haunting humanoids.

#Sampson McKinney, we are the people you know as NEWFOUNDLIANS. Please excuse our seeming disarray, but as you may sense, we were not prepared for your presence on NEWFOUNDLANDER/Explorer. That simple mode of transportation was our ancient attempt at understanding your species#

The strain on Sampson’s mind overwhelms him, mostly because Ekcello is trying to find a way to communicate with the least accessible of the three off-worlders. Even the youngest McKinney seems to have had her fears alleviated. But Dad’s mental resistance results in a headache of migraine-ic proportions, all because he just not on their prevailing wavelength.

Not far from the outer edge of the tower Eupepsia, the lofty structure that Explorer Eridanus2 - Copyhad brought them to, and an elevator of sorts await. To be accurate, it was only an open-air platform; not a conveyance for the faint of heart. It makes nary a noise, barely jostling a hair on their heads or having a sense of motion whatsoever.

For all his astronautical achievements Sampson begins to squirm when the one mile mark of the vertical climb is gained. He sits down next to his mentally drained spouse and uses his spare arm to clutch Deimostra, who at this point of her young life has no fear… none. He wishes that she would take a nap at this critical time in the meeting of two worlds; 9 light-years apart in The Milky Way and a light-century apart in societal progress.


THE RETURN TRIP

The Meeting of Two Worlds

Episode 221


page 200

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 218

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 218

…fast-forward 7 years, to that star/planet/moon system in Orion’s Belt…

“Meet the people of Eridanus. The # sign is not a hashtag, it a representation of their musical way of communicating (I wrote this book before Twitter was created) – Gwenny

#Concentrate Sampson McKinney. Think of the sons you left behind on Earth. Let your stubborn mind leave the finite confines of your body#

Sampson, his eyes closed is nearly grunting from the effort to imitate the psychic ability of their hosts of the planet/moon Eridanus. Hyperphysical transmigration does not come easy for one who defines hyperphysical as a brisk walk down to the perfectly sound solid ground 2000 floors down. Why did they build these silly towers anyway?

#How do you explain your wife’s talent for this simple exercise?#

Ekcello, the Supreme Elder of Eridanus, can access Sampson’s mind, with his world’s overt form of lyrical, cantabile style of advanced communication. But this 21st Century-model-male from Earth does not receive anything other than what his ears can hear. His limited auditory canals collect a completely different and foreign version of the resident/alien’s lecture. While a strange combination of music and indeterminable letters roll around the twisted canals of his inner ear, he has yet to master the parapsychological tools used by the average Eridanian.

Celeste McKinney for her part and Deimostra McKinney for the most part, have pretty well grasped the telepathy portion of their life on Eridanus. Yet it has taken the full 7 years of their Towersextended stay on this whimsically enchanting world to refine the complex mental exercises down to a science.

If it had been up to him, Sampson would have just as soon re-boarded the NEWFOUNDLANDER (Eridanian name translated: Explorer) and head back to Earth. But to his dismay, Eridanian law forbids space travel, by its civilization, by conventional means. Any one of the 325,241 permanent residents, in this world of spiraling towers reaching into a pastel-pink sky, can if the spirit moves them, go for an out-of-body escapade, with the permission of the Elders.

For Space Colony 1 Commander McKinney, there is one thing that always bothered him, perhaps the reason why he cannot wrap his brain around telepathic communication: “Why didn’t they know that their spaceship contained three human beings? If they travel with their minds, they should have known.” That disconnect has added to the feeling that they were being held against their will.

This has been an awkward process from the beginning, even though they should be feeling grateful for the way they have been treated…


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 218


page 197

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 213

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 213

…Deimostra has spent the final 15 hours sleeping, harmlessly dreaming of the people they were about to meet…

“I think we may have made a slight miscalculation about just how old the Newfoundlander is, considering this collection of spaceships.”

Photo by Lauren Hansen-Flauschen for Penn Museum

“Then how does one account for those never-before-seen artifacts in storage below, Sam?”

“Maybe they were lifted out of museum and the curators reported them as stolen. Or maybe they got lucky and found the stuff where no one else had looked before; I’m sure they had mass spectrometers long before we did.”

“No Sam, I’m telling you that modern man has not seen those treasures below! As for getting lucky — maybe, but not likely, considering the archaeological coverage in the Nile Delta.”

As NEWFOUNDLANDER shimmies into its pre-destined parking place, something occurs to Sampson’s astro-nautically trained mind, “Could it be that these people have abandoned space travel? I mean, did you see a fleet come out to escort us in? Have any of us seen any shuttle traffic, weather satellite or space station anywhere on the way here?”

Before Celeste can agree, the closing of the 100 foot tall doors distracts her and once again they are left to wonder what happens next. The enclosure now adds a claustrophobic slant to their rampant speculation. Confinement is a stark certainty, after over 5 years in the vastness of deep-space

Unease, doubt, apprehension: all these begin to consume Commander Sampson McKinney, formerly of Space Colony 1, recently employed NASA astronaut and previous inhabitant of Earth. It is all he can do to merely stand still and wait. The waiting is the hardest part.

“Have we landed yet Mother and Father?” Deimostra has spent the final 15 hours sleeping, harmlessly dreaming of the people they were about to meet, confined to her cabin for safety’s sake. Her feet have never been in contact with solid ground, but that is about to change. She has put on the dress Celeste had fashioned for this very portentous occasion, a feminine frock with as many little girl touches as were available on this male laden vessel.

“We have just landed dear one and we are inside a very, very…very large building.” She spins Deimostra around, tugging and adjusting clothing and hair. “These people are going to meet my pretty little girl.”

“When will we get to meet them?” she asks.

“I believe they would be coming through door number two!” Sampson hazards a cautious guess at the first sign of activity.

The next chapter of Earth’s history is about to be written.

The folks on Planet X is in for a surprise of historic proportion.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 213


page 193 (end Ch. 8)

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 212

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 212

…Only one new model in four thousand years, how can that be, I think we may have made a slight miscalculation…

Miscalculation by Jared Hindman

The largest of these towering edifices opens its low-level gates, in order to swallow the NEWFOUNDLANDER. The giant size sliding doors draw apart slowly and they can almost hear the creaking of the glides due to a possible drought of inactivity. The well-traveled ship both lumbers and floats in, after the gap reaches its full extent.

The adult McKinneys cannot take their eyes off the still functioning monitors. They have entered into what appears to be a vehicular {space} gallery.

“Do you remember the EAA Convention in Wisconsin?” Sampson tests his wife’s premarital memory about a yearly gathering of flying machines, pilots, enthusiasts and an accompanying aviation museum.

“Yes I do. You wanted to show off something there to your buddies.” Celeste was thinking about her inaugural introduction to his friends and fellow airborne buffs.

“Yeah Oshkosh, by gosh, and the P-51 Mustang I had been working on for 5 years!” That comment earns him a fist to the shoulder. She meant hers-truly. “There is every type of spacecraft imaginable here.”

About that he is correct.

And then some; human eyes have not seen, nor can they imagine where some of these ships came from, though there a few that look like they were made by Earth’s own rocketeers, “That looks the first liquid-fueled rocket made by Robert Goddard in the 1920s! They made a movie about that Celeste. Stick an American Flag on that one.”

Identifying the antiques is easy. Just where the NEWFOUNDLANDER fits into this collection, only the folks of Planet X would know, although that vacant slot on the right, near the end of this mindboggling menagerie seems to have NEWFOUNDLANDER written all over it.

“There is only one ship here that looks more advanced than this one.” He is baffled. Only one new model in four thousand years, how can that be? I think we may have made a slight miscalculation.” (like Wile E Coyote)


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 212


page 192

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 204

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 204

…Is the NEWFOUNDLANDER a colonizer/scout that is now returning to a burned out home?…

“Get a load of that one,” Sampson to Celeste & Sammy, “it is 2X the size of Jupiter and spinning like a top!”

A NEWFOUNDLANDER monitor dedicated to geological activity reveals a tempestuous surface, three-fourths boiling with volcanism. Elsewhere, raging magnetic storms ripple through a conspicuously toxic atmosphere.

“I think we can cross that planet off our list Sam,” Celeste reasons.

“It may not be what you would call a vacation destination, but a recent course deviation puts us right in line with that monster.” He checks and rechecks his unlikely calculations, each time netting the same results.

“There cannot be so much as a trace of oxygen or a stable slab of ground on that planet Sam. Remember when we speculated that the NEWFOUNDLIANS may have been searching out a new home planet? Or has their world started a geological upheaval after they left? Is this ship a colonizer/scout that is now returning to a burned out home?

“That is a possibility,” he says in a regretting tone, “but what if one of those moons happens to be their home? There is one moon, slightly smaller than Earth and yet another could be Neptune’s twin brother! And Neptune2 looks like it has a moon of its own. Doesn’t that blow your mind?”

Epsilon_Eridani_b

This is an inaugural peek at a solar system through provincial perceptions of conventionality. Hubble had alerted Earthly eyes of the existence of viable planetary systems circling other stars, so odds favor it. But to have postulated the strange and complex menagerie attending to Epsilon Eridani, no super-telescope could have sorted out.

Exhibit One: There four mega-planets in similar orbits, over a billion miles away from their blue-white star, the largest planet owning two moons, one the size of Neptune, and that with a satellite to boot; unheard of.


THE RETURN TRIP

Burned Out by Louise Adams

Episode 204


page 184

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 201

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 201

…Celeste M. uses an analogy to explain, to put a bow on a story about the good old days on Earth…

Bobby Haiqalsyah Melbourne, Australia

Celeste M. uses an analogy to explain, to put a bow on a story about the good old days in Texas, “Uncle Braden was supposed to check in from time to time, but he got busy with our Space Colony {RIP} and did not see if things were going well with the neighbor house.”

“Kinda like us living on this ship from the Newfoundlians Deimostra, they think it is empty,” adds Sam, who sees where his wife is headed.

“Well after the summer was over and the owners of the ranch came home, there was nothing left of value in the house and what was left was trashed.”

“Braden got in trouble, did he not?” Sammy’s mommy-taught English is contraction free.

“That’s UNCLE Braden and my point is about us honey… now you can imagine what these beings are going to think when they find us stowed away on a ship they fully expect to be empty. We won’t speak their language and I pray they are as peaceful as they appear, because they will have a hard time understanding or believing our story.”King Ranch logo

“Did Braden, I mean Uncle Braden, find out who was in that house,” she had seen pictures of King Ranch (and what a house looks like) on the portable computers they were carrying when they unexpectedly lifted off the surface of Mars.

“They did Sammy and they beat him with a broom, made him clean up the mess and threw the old man in jail for 10 years…I think he got out last week. And Braden was barred from ever setting foot on the neighbor’s ranch.” {Sampson M. embellishment}

“Do not listen to him sweetie. Texas justice is different, but not barbaric, though the squatter was deported back to Mexico and Uncle Braden helped pay for the damage.”

“What will the Newfoundlians do to us?”

“On second thought, if I tried a sequence code over on this panel, I could turn this thing around. Mommy’s point about not being able to explain ourselves is a good reason to hightail it out of here.” Sampson McKinney was getting cold feet, as Epsilon Eridani gets increasing larger on the navigation plot. “WWJBD?”

“What Would Jesus of Bethlehem Do?” Celeste thinks she solves the acronym.

“No, ‘What Would James Bond Do‘? There isn’t a recognizable weapon on this spaceship, so I hope the planet has the same philosophy. Besides that, three thousand years ago, they could have conquered Earth without so much as raising a finger,” he looks at his left index digit. “What did these guys have on the end of their arms Cel, I don’t remember?”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 201


page 185

Travel Agents Need Not Apply – WIF DNA Travel

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Places Where

People Have

Rarely Been

Through technological advancement and good old-fashioned human stubbornness, much of the Earth has been mapped and human boots have touched down on virtually every continent, island, desert, forest, and icy plain… or have they?

It might surprise some people to learn that there are still vast areas of the Earth left uninhabited, explored, or even mapped properly. While it is true that much of the Earth has been surveyed, vast portions of wilderness in Chile haven’t been, a handful of mountain summits remain untouched, countless cavern systems have gone unexplored, and the ocean floor remains a vast, alien world left unmapped by humans.

Here are the top 10 places where people have never been. (Except Photographers)

10. Muchu Chhish, Pakistan

In 2003, Bhutan banned all climbing, but some expeditions have been able to obtain permits. In 2014, English mountaineer, Pete Thompson, attempted to scale the mountain, hoping to reach the summit. Thompson expected to have to climb the final 1,453 meters without ropes, but the presence of hard ice derailed his plan to reach the top, forcing him to turn back at the 6,000-meter mark.

Prior to Thompson’s attempt, a Spanish team was rumored to have made it all the way to 6,650 meters and remains the highest point on the mountain anyone has reached.

Pakistan is home to 108 peaks taller than 7,000 meters, and many of these peaks belong to the Karakoram mountain range, of which 40 to 50 percent is covered in glaciers. This mountain range is so large that it borders China, India, Pakistan, and even extends to Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The Karakoram range is also one of the world’s most geologically active areas, as the range was created by the interaction of the Indo-Australian plate and the Eurasian plate.

9. 90% of the Ocean Floor

Earth’s ocean floor is a vast, alien world, which remains almost entirely unexplored by humans. While satellites have managed to map almost 100 percent of the ocean floor at low resolutions, more than 80% of it has yet to be explored or mapped at higher resolutions.

James Cameron famously explored a portion of the Pacific Northern Valley, known as Challenger Deep with a one-man submersible. Challenger deep is thought to be the deepest known point in the Earth’s seabed, reaching a depth of 10,920 meters. Cameron’s dive managed to reach an impressive depth of 10,908 meters, setting the world record.

One of the main reasons why so much of the ocean floor has yet to be mapped is due to the difficulty of developing vessels which can survive the immense pressures and conditions present in the deepest parts of the ocean floor. The deepest portions of the Mariana Trench experience a pressure of eight tons per square inch, enough to crush the human body into a messy pulp.

Before the first divers made their first journey into Challenger Deep more than 50 years ago, it was thought that the bottom of the ocean was a muddy, lifeless desert. But since then, we’ve learned that the reality is quite the opposite. Life thrives in our oceans, and if we could explore these seemingly alien worlds, we might find new extremophiles and unknown lifeforms. A prospect that has many scientists excited.

8. Northern Forest Complex, Myanmar

The Northern Forest Complex in Myanmar remains one of the largest areas of uninterrupted wilderness in South Asia, extending across lowland forests, and wetlands filled with coniferous trees (meaning they have scale-like or needle-shaped leaves). And just above the Northern Myanmar tree line are the majestic, jagged snow-covered mountain peaks.

The region boasts some of the greatest biodiversity in South Asia, many areas remaining virtually untouched by human explorers. It’s believed that numerous species of tigers, elephants, and birds make up a significant portion of that biodiversity.

The heart of the forest is nearly 13,679 kilometers and is the world’s largest tiger reserve.

Despite the relative scarcity of human life in the forest, about 1 million people live around the forest’s borders, living both inland and on the adjacent coast.

Though much of the forest remains under environmental protection sanctions, many of those sanctions are expiring, which some experts suggest could lead to disaster for the future of the forest complex’s continued biodiversity. Illegal animal tracking continues to be a problem, China being a major player in the trade of exotic animals taken from the area.

7. Namibia Desert

The Namibia Desert is one of the most hostile places to life on Earth, and it’s currently thought to be the world’s oldest desert. Because of the extreme heat and arid conditions, the region remains almost entirely uninhabited.

The Skeleton Coast is as deadly as it is beautiful, with white sprawling sands and shipwrecks from bygone eras littering its shores as if warning of the dangers the desert might contain should it be visited by unwary travelers.

Despite this, the Namib Desert and the Skeletal Coast are home to a surprising array of wildlife, such as baboons, leopards, cheetah, and brown and spotted hyena, and hippos have been spotted from time to time wading in the waters of the Skeleton Coast.

The only real traffic the area experiences is due to important trade routes.

6. Hang Son Doong Cave, Vietnam

Hang Son Doong Cave was first discovered in 1990 by a local farmer named Ho Khanh, who was seeking shelter from a passing storm in the jungle. Ho Khanh noticed that clouds and the sound of a rushing subsurface river was coming from a massive hole in the limestone in the jungle. He survived the storm but got lost making his way out of the jungle, and the location of the cave was thought to have been lost for 18 years.

Fortunately for us, he rediscovered the entrance to the cave in 2008 while hunting. The cave is now thought to be one of the largest in the world, stretching an impressive five kilometers long and reaching heights of 200 meters. The first expedition to the cave, led by a group of UK divers, was unable to map the entire cave system, due to lacking the proper equipment to continue.

The cave is home to an impressively unique eco-system, featuring its own localized weather system. Extremely rare limestone cave pearls remain scattered throughout the cave, resting in dried pools, and it’s also home to the largest stalagmite ever discovered, measuring in at a staggering 80 meters.

Because of the delicate eco-system, people are not allowed to enter Son Doong Cave, and much of it remains unexplored. It is thought that the system could be even larger than original estimates suggested.

5. Sakha Republic, Russia

Despite being the largest administrative subdivision in the world, and the largest part of the Russian Federation, the Sakha Republic is a frozen wasteland, where ancient, extinct animals have long been preserved in permafrost. It gets as cold as -43.5 degrees Celsius in the winter, and only 19 degrees in summer. It’s one of the least populated places in the world, home to less than 1 million people despite being large enough to fit several countries inside of it.

Russian folklore tells that God flew over this immense expanse of frozen land, carrying Earth’s treasures, and because of the extreme cold, his hands froze, causing him to drop those treasures all throughout the Sakha Republic. The region is home to some of the richest deposits of natural resources, making up 82% of diamonds, 17% of gold, 61% of uranium, and 5% of iron ores in Russia.

Vast portions of wilderness in the Sakha Republic have been left completely unexplored by man.

4. Gangkhar Puensum, Bhutan

Considered to be the world’s tallest “unclimbed” mountain by many, Gangkhar Puensum’s peak has never been scaled, and it’s unlikely that anyone ever will if the government has anything to say about it. The peaks of Gangkhar Puensum are sacred to the people of Bhutan, and it’s considered an extreme taboo for anyone to attempt to scale its slopes and peaks.

But ordinances and taboos can’t stop everyone, and since part of the mountain extends across the Chinese border, the first and only attempt to assail it was led by a Japanese climbing team in 1998. They were stopped short of their goal to explore the uncharted mountain by political fueled outrage from Bhutan.

The mountain remains untrodden by humans.

3. Karjiang I, Tibet

When viewed from a distance, Karjiang mountain looks like a taller, icy mountain was smashed in by an asteroid, creating a large crater around which the sharp, frozen peaks point inward. Like most mountains in Tibet, it’s an incredible sight. With a height of 7,221 meters, Karjiang’s first peak remains one of the tallest unclimbed peaks in the world.

The Karjiang mountain rests near the Bhutan-China border in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The last serious attempt to reach its summit was by a Dutch expedition in 2001. At some point in their climb, the Dutch explorers had to turn back due to harsh weather conditions, though they did manage to reach an elevation of 6,820 meters, climbing Karjiang III, before retreating.

While Karjiang I remains indominable, Karjiang II’s summit was reached in 1986 by a party of Japanese explorers led by N. Shigo.

The difficult with Karjiang I is that its slopes are prone to avalanches and the ever-shifting weather patterns make it nearly impossible to predict what conditions will be present during an expedition.

2. Greenland Northern Islands

Greenland is the world’s largest island, and it’s home to stunning glaciers and ice covered mountains which stab up from the Earth like jagged blades. The country is recognized as an autonomous part of Denmark, and most of it is uninhabited, featuring less than 58,000 residents. Greenland’s untamed landscapes tell a story dating back nearly 3.8 billion years and the few travelers that are able to venture there tell of how geological time seems uniquely evident when looking upon the country’s vast glaciated peaks and immensely diverse landscapes.

In 2005, melting polar ice revealed new islands, which escaped categorization when Greenland was first mapped nearly a century prior. The discovery of new lands connected to the immense island is just one of many secrets which could be revealed if climate change continues unimpeded. Scientists are very concerned that global warming could lead to the melting of the glaciers which cover most of the island’s interior.

The country’s largest geological feature, the Jakobshavn Glacier, moves at an incredible speed of 30 meters a day, faster than any other glacier on Earth.

It’s thought that this ice sheet was the source of the iceberg which sunk the Titanic.

1. Northern Patagonia, Chile

The vast wilderness of Northern Patagonia is home to temperate rainforests, glaciers, fjords, and hot springs, and it’s one of Chile’s least populated regions. While the Los Glaciares Park in Argentina and Torres del Paine National Park in Chile continue to be tourism hubs, outside of that area the wilderness remains largely unexplored. As many of the tourist sites touting the desirability of the area for its appeal to outdoorsmen attest, the safety of the average hiker depends greatly on which trails they choose to take. There are vast regions so inhospitable, that even the toughest explorer might have issues navigating the terrain.

The Aysen Region features hanging glaciers, immense fjords which take on complex patterns, stunning blue caverns, and steaming, dangerous rainforests.

The area is only accessible by the Carretera Austral, the name given to Chile’s Route 7 highway.

The ice fields are so vast, in fact, that they’re comparable to those found in the arctic circle and prove incredibly difficult to map properly.


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 162

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 162

…“It appears we are going for a ride, family!”

“Where are we going,” Celeste wonders?

“I’d like to know, who is driving?”…

“Sit down in that chair over there, strap yourself in and wrap this blanket around Sammy,” he hands it to her and secures his girls.

For his part, Sampson seizes what they believe is the command seat, though there is no crew to instruct or the slightest feeling of control. The king and queen of this mysterious realm are compelled to hang on for an unidentified unknown outcome.

The previously dormant main viewscreen snaps to, filled with a panoramic picture of the Martian landscape. Syrtis Major looms stoically in the background, with Tycho and AL wondering what is going on in the fore. At the peak perfect pitch of A, the NEWFOUNDLANDER pauses, as if to bid Mars farewell, the only home it has known for some 3000 years.

“It appears we are going for a ride family!”

“Where are we going,” Celeste wonders?

“I’d like to know, who is driving?” He tries get the feel for some sort of helm, but it seems to be fruitless. “Let’s hope that it hasn’t forgotten the way to Earth, if that’s too much to ask.”

Liftoff is smooth and with the exception of the anticipated g-forces, they were soon out of Mars’ loving embrace and headed… headed… unfortunately headed away from the sun, which at this point in planetary alignment, is in the opposite direction of Earth. After Sampson proves to himself that he has not figured out the secrets of navigation, he unbuckles himself and what to his wondering eyes does appear a solid boot footing and a stable atmosphere. Space Colony 1 had some measure of gravity, but not anything approaching this downward force.

His first official duty as commander of the NEWFOUNDLANDER is to check on Celeste, who is still in post-delivery recovery, and of course the baby. Both are partially conscious from the shock of the ship achieving what has to be multiples of the speed-of-light. There is no space-speed indicator, but the sun of this sun system is fading faster than the orb on an Alaskan winter’s night.

Martian Sky


 THE RETURN TRIP

Rocket Ferry Leaving Mars by Chesley Bonestell

Episode 162


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