Mars on Earth – Planetary Mashup

Leave a comment

Mars-Like

Places

on Earth

Will humans ever be able to live on Mars? That’s the big question that a lot of people wonder about. Nicknamed the Red Planet because of its bright rust color, it is the fourth planet from the sun and Earth’s neighbor.

Despite being much colder than Earth with an average temperature of around -80 degrees Fahrenheit, there are many other obstacles in the way of humans colonizing there right now, such as the fact that there isn’t any oxygen to breathe. Scientists, however, are searching for new ways to make it possible for humans to eventually move to Mars, such as potentially heating up the planet to create an atmosphere in which people can breathe in oxygen.

The progress that scientists are making is amazing and it may be very possible for humans to inhabit our planetary neighbor in the not-so-distant future. Having locations on Earth that are similar to the conditions on the Red Planet are extremely helpful for researchers… like these six Mars-like locations right here on our planet.

Lake Vostok, Antarctica

Lake Vostok, Antarctica is one of the biggest subglacial lakes on Earth. The lake, which is located near the South Pole in East Antarctica, is 143 miles long, 31 miles wide, and over 2,600 feet deep. It is buried beneath more than two miles of ice and is located close to Russia’s Vostok research station. It is estimated that the lake has been covered with ice for at least 15 million years, with no access to light, and is sealed from the atmosphere which makes it one of the most extreme environments on the planet.

A Russian geographer/pilot first noticed the buried lake in the 1960s when he spotted from the air a smooth patch of ice on top of it. In 1996, British and Russian researchers then confirmed that there was indeed a lake buried there. Despite the age of the lake being unknown, scientists believe it is only thousands of years old.

Although the location has an average temperature of around minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the lake itself is believed to be around 27 degrees Fahrenheit because of the huge weight of the ice on top. Scientists also believe that the freshwater lake could have creatures living in the darkness and the extreme cold. In fact, they did find that the lake contains microbes and multi-cellular organisms. And this gives hope that life can be found in the similarly extreme environment of Mars.

Dry Valleys, Antarctica

The Dry Valleys are a row of valleys located west of McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. The valleys, which are subjected to cold permafrost, are said to be the closest terrestrial environment similar to the very north of Mars. Researchers have found bacteria that live in freezing temperatures where the water has turned to ice and where nutrients are scarce. Oligotrophs are slow-growing organisms that live in environments where nutrients are hard to find and they could help scientists figure out how life could possibly exist on Mars.

Researchers believe that Mars’ polar north may have supported life at one time because it received a lot more sunlight millions of years ago, which means the possibility of water and, of course, life. So researchers began drilling at this location in Antarctica to decide which machinery would be best to use on the northern locations of Mars. Scientists have found a patch of soil covering a layer of ice at the polar north of the Red Planet, and the environment is very similar at Dry Valleys, so that’s why this drilling research is being conducted there.

Atacama Desert, Chile

The Atacama Desert in Chile is a plateau approximately 1,000 kilometers long and is so extremely dry that it’s one of the most Mars-like locations on the planet. In fact, it can take decades of time between rainfalls, which ranks it among the driest locations on Earth. That is why, in 2004, scientists that were NASA-funded spent four weeks in the desert doing research on how life could possibly survive on Mars. And what they found is definitely mind-blowing.

In the dry core of the desert, scientists have found microbial life. And if they can find it on an immensely dry location like the Atacama Desert, where many people believe that nothing is able to survive, there’s a very real possibility that they could also find life on Mars. A planetary scientist from Washington State University was quoted saying “If life can persist in Earth’s driest environment, there is a good chance it could be hanging in there on Mars in a similar fashion.”

Pico de Orizaba, Mexico

Pico de Orizaba is a volcano located in south-central Mexico. It rises on the south edge of the Mexican Plateau and is located about 60 miles east of Puebla. The volcano, which has been dormant since 1687, is the third highest peak in North America, registering at 18,406 feet tall.

One big question in regards to the possible colonization on Mars is how would humans make it habitable? That is why scientists are so interested in Pico de Orizaba. It has one of Earth’s highest tree line elevations at over 13,000 feet and researchers are using this location to try to figure out how they could begin life on Mars.

Scientists believe that if they could warm up the Red Planet by using heat-trapping gases, raising the air pressure, and beginning photosynthesis, that they could possibly create and maintain an atmosphere that would support humans and other life forms that need oxygen to breathe. If they could use these gases to heat Mars to 41 degrees Fahrenheit, that would equal the temperature of the tree line on the Pico de Orizaba volcano.

Death Valley, California

Scientists have done extensive research and testing for decades at Death Valley because of the location’s ancient rock layers. Even NASA’s Curiosity was tested there to see how it would handle to harsh terrain on Mars. Death Valley is located in the southeast of California and is the lowest, driest, and hottest part of North America. The valley is approximately 140 miles long by 5 to 15 miles wide. Although the valley is excessively hotter than Mars, the harsh rocky terrain is said to be quite similar.

Since 2012, Death Valley holds a yearly event called MarsFest where engineers and scientists discuss with the public the similar relationship between that location and Mars. People can visit Mars Hill, which is covered with volcanic rubble and rocks, as well as take a walk to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, the Ubehebe Crater volcanic field, and the Little Hebe Crater.

Devon Island

Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island on the planet. Of all the islands on Earth – habited and uninhabited – it is the 27th largest. It is part of an archipelago (a group of islands) called the Parry Islands in Nunavut, Canada. It is located in the Arctic Ocean, south of Ellesmere Island and west of Baffin Bay. Devon Island is approximately 320 miles long and 80-100 miles wide with an area of just over 21,000 square miles.

The island, which was discovered in 1616 by William Baffin, has a huge 14-mile wide crater called the “Haughton Crater.” It is estimated that the crater was created around 39 million years ago when a comet two kilometers in diameter hit the area. Described as a polar desert, the impact zone is cold, dry, windy and dusty which makes it quite similar to the many craters on Mars, especially with all the loose rock in this earthly crater. Although Devon Island has an average temperature of 1 degree Fahrenheit and Mars averages -76 degrees Fahrenheit weather, the island is one of the closest comparisons to our planetary neighbor.

Pascal Lee is a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute and is leading the NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) where the Haughton Crater is being used for research of new technologies and strategies which will hopefully help prepare humans and robots for the exploration of the Red Planet. Every summer since 1997, Lee has led missions to the isolated island where they have tested many things that will help them for a trip to Mars, such as spacesuits and robots, as well as drills.


Mars on Earth –

Planetary Mashup

The NULL Solution = Episode 197

Leave a comment

The NULL Solution = Episode 197

…I believe that the McKinneys are seriously concerned about bringing back a viral agent that may be able to morph into a pandemic on Earth…

Crip may want to run this by the decontamination team.”

“The kid just needs a stiff shot of caffeine. That will perk him up!”

“We cannot take the chance. You message Roy while I do some lab work.”

As it would happen, the message meant for the director of NASA seeps into the cracks of bureaucracy and into the hands of a snotty-nosed underling.

-He reads.

THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH JOYNER. NOT EXACTLY SURE WHAT IT IS. CELESTE IS LOOKING INTO POSSIBLE LINK TO BUG THAT KILLED THE CREW ON MARS, WAY BACK WHEN. SEE YOU SOON – SAM

-He reacts.

Instead of delivering the {For Your Eyes Only} message to Roy Crippen, who would keep it under his hat for the sake of secrecy, the staffer shares it his colleagues while he is on his morning break. “Look at this, guys,” he proudly flashes the rare communication from the returning McKinney mission, “you don’t see one of these every day… it’s from Sampson McKinney himself!”

He thought he was reading about a little insect bite or something. The breakroom sees it differently, especially the medical officer in charge of infectious space threats.

“I’ve read about the 2030 Tycho/Space Colony 1 mission… they never were able to isolate the precise cause of the alien disaster. You don’t lose 50+ crewmen and ignore the cause. I believe that the McKinneys are seriously concerned about bringing back a viral agent that may be able to morph into a pandemic on Earth.”

“That is some farfetched theory, man.”

“Hey, do you want two aliens coming to Earth and spreading a deadly disease?” The room goes silent. “It’s my job to prevent such things and that’s what I am going to do!”

The horses have just got out of the barn.

By the time Roy tries closing the barn door, it is too late. Varying forms of Sam McKinney’s cautionary tale explode across every single known Internet medium and then some. And just like the Collapsar Axis invasion/panic/narrative, anti-alien sentiment suddenly trumps the feel-good homecoming story.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 197


page 191

The NULL Solution = Episode 150

Leave a comment

The NULL Solution = Episode 150

…Deimostra has gone from talking love with her mom, to crunching numbers with the object of her affection…

“I’ve been tossing around the numbers,” the infamous Skaldic postulates. “I have made a Image result for juggling numbers gifmap…” he points, “… that is Earth, this is the planet Mars and way over here is our star system.” The graphics are scary lifelike. “At each location I have made a list of your family members and when they were there. I was working off the list you gave to me.”

“Yep, that is pretty much it.” Deimostra can only guess/wonder about Related imagea brother, sister-in-law and niece she has never met. “When you lay it out this way, it makes it seem like we’re all together.”

He can see that she is tearing up, moving closer to comfort her. She lays her head on his shoulder. The moment freezes.

She composes herself, “How about the NEWFOUNDLANDER? That is Image result for juggling numbers gifwhere I was born.”

“Ah, good point! That is where I have been going wrong!” He adds an image of the ship that brought the McKinneys to Eridanus. He adjusts the figures to fit the equation:

2 + 1 = 6

6 – 2 = 9

0 – 1 = 0

“You will have to stick with me on this, Deimostra.” He enters the following data:

**2 + 1 = 6 – (Sampson Celeste + Deimostra) in space = (Sampson, Celeste, Deimostra, Deke, Cerella, Joyner) on Eridanus. “2 + 1 = 6”

**6 – 2 = 9 (Sampson, Celeste, Deimostra, Deke, Cerella, Joyner) Eridanus minus (Cerella, Joyner) = Sampson, Celeste, Deimostra, Deke, Cerella, Joyner) Eridanus minus (Cerella, Joyner) would be a McKinney family reunion. “6 – 2 = 9”

**0 – 1 = 0 (Null minus Skaldic) = Zero. “0 – 1 = 0”

“That makes my head hurt, Skaldic.”

“All the numbers add up. Each represents some connection to your family… it also explains the flawed mathematics.”

Related image“Except the zero segments, 0 minus 1 is negative 1.”

Does not the word “null” mean “without value” or “zero”?”

“Okay, I’ll give you that. But what does null mean in your language?”

“The word “Null” is a designation, not a description. It is Earth’s meaning that makes it a derogatory term. The riddle maker has framed its solution with the Terran system as a foundation,” he concludes. “I can no longer consider myself a true Null.” He faintly laments having to be lifted to Gifted status, in order to restore the essential ancient Null Spirit in the TSF capability of the ship Defender.

 “Six McKinneys on Eridanus, nine McKinneys all told in the universe and my separation from my society satisfies the zero result.”

It is as easy as 1-2-3, maybe 4.

“My head still hurts.” She has gone from talking love with her mom, to crunching numbers with the object of her affection. Love = Headaches. Perhaps that is amalgam she should come away with.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 150


page 148

The NULL Solution = Episode 145

Leave a comment

The NULL Solution = Episode 145

…Rick Stanley digs deep for a way to frame his description about really happened on Mars…

Good Morning Mission Control’s current purpose is to direct attention to the recent homecoming of two heroes of space and their incredible story of riding the plume of a volcano to break free from Martian gravity.

“We didn’t have enough fuel achieve escape velocity,” is Rick Stanley’s explanation.

“Not if we wanted to get back home,” adds Gus to this already flawed storyline. “We came back with 2 tons worth of samples; vegetation, soil, water, you know, for our boys in the Lab. They wouldn’t let us land if we came back empty handed.”

“That’s right Commander McKinney! We needed the heat thermals to get our butts out of the atmosphere.”

“And yet you didn’t bring any pictures back to share?” RG II goes off-script to ask the question most viewers would ask if they had the chance.

“We were so busy doing the calculations required for liftoff that I guess we forgot.” Stanley is the most convincing of the pair.

“Then could you describe the Martian landscape to our viewers?  We are receiving that very question from a million people across the world.”

Rick Stanley digs deep for a way to frame his description.

“In one of my favorite author Robert Heinlein’s book Farnham’s Freehold, a family already in their bomb shelter, is bombed into the future. Not to a different spot, but one where there are no roads or buildings near where their house once stood. Only the hills and trees and rivers are there, barely recognizable to the keenest observer. The rest of the book is about pretty graphic social interaction, so I won’t bother you with that.

“In our case, Commander McKinney had us land on the other side of Mars… from that structure… not sure it is manmade or not. We managed to traverse the full ½ of the planet circumference…

“…and back.”

“Good thing, right Gus? We weaved and climbed and dodged our way on some of the same ground covered by Spirit and Opportunity, except back then the rivers were dry and we’re not sure anything was ever green and growing. So are maps were mostly Image result for tap dance gifuseless.”

“And not a single hydrogen station to stop and ask directions from.”

“We could only travel by day, even though Solution was equipped with a virtual star map.”

“Just like the ancient mariners we were!” Gus tries to keep things light. The public has seen nothing but press releases and publicity photos ever since the 1st SOL test flights. All that served to do was enhance his legendary family’s space lore. “If I can interrupt, my favorite moment was when we drove Solution into a river. What a kick to see how she handles underwater!”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 145


page 143

The NULL Solution = Episode 134

Leave a comment

The NULL Solution = Episode 134

…”Come on home Gus,” Roy breaks in, “a tired and broken planet needs you more than ever!”…

Solution is secured, ready for lift-off!” Rick is placing the drone as near to the active plume as is safe.

“Take us right into the firestorm Ricko. That’s what heat shielding is for!”

Up and up they travel, propelled by Mother Nature – Mars style. Before you can count to {6 – 2 = 9}, all of NASA property, other than Tycho, has exited Martian gravitational influence. Covered in soot and free as a bird, the captives follow the plotted path back to Earth.

“Riddle my ass!” Gus looks at the rear-facing monitor. As Mars gets smaller, he catches the glimpse of an image off to the side. In the roundness of the reflection they see Harmonia, not the empty and lonely space scraper, but one dotted with moving figures and previously nonexistent shuttles, looking more like a village than an edifice.

Lorgan?”

Lorgan.”

Come on home Gus,” Roy breaks in, “a tired and broken planet needs you more than ever!

Roy Crippen fires off video and files pertaining to the current state of affairs, which he had withheld, until now.

“How is my family?”

Grandpa Roy responds, “Marscie is a real champ, slept through it all.”

“How about you?”

“I am going to sleep for the entire two months it takes for you to get back… right after I tell the world that Stanley & Gus are coming home from Mars.”

“How did the world know we were gone?”

“Alf Quigby.”

“Huh?????”

“He’s the president of the Space Family McKinney Fan Club.”

“Oh that Alf, I sent him an autographed SEx toy last year.” That didn’t come out right. “You know what I meant…”

“Hi-larious!” The tension needed some easing. “Ignore stories about that planetary distress signal, for now.”

“Roger Roy!” Not Roy Rogers. —


The NULL Solution =

Episode 134


page 132

The NULL Solution = Episode 132

Leave a comment

The NULL Solution = Episode 132

…”Everywhere and nowhere at the same time, yeah, that is the refrain I keep hearing.”

“The question and the answer…”

Everywhere and Nowhere by Chris Brandell

Believe it or not, the state of affairs on Mars holds more promise than that of Earth.

Entrapped, yet empowered by planetary laws of volcanism, Roy is completely aware of the latest Hail Mary being tossed by Gus McKinney, Champion of Mars. Being able to announce the tiniest of space successes may be able quell the chaos at home.

He just won’t spill the beans about the two astronauts being held without their will.

“If we get out, tell the world that we will do everything in our power to save the day!”

“You may have to Gus. The upheaval is showing no signs of slowing down.”

“Is it as big as I’ve heard?”

“Bigger.” Crip is not prone to superlatives. “But we have to get you into space first. When is Olympus going to erupt, Rick?”

“Any time Roy. The magma is tracking up a fissure, big enough to drive your wife’s car through. We have used laser blasters for a primer.”

“Do you have enough power left to counteract the downward G’s at liftoff?”

“Barely… but heat does rise and the thermals created by the eruption should be heavenly.”

“Have you seen our friend Lorgan lately?” Roy doesn’t want to be the last to know.

“Once in a while we think we see something shimmering up there, but that bugger looks like a mirage to me. I’m not sure what I seeing any more,” admits Gus.

Everywhere and nowhere at the same time, yeah, that is the refrain I keep hearing.”

“The question and the answer…”

Gus may be closer to the truth than he knows.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 132


page 130

The NULL Solution = Episode 129

Leave a comment

The NULL Solution = Episode 129

…Who says a watched pot doesn’t boil…

“You look like you’re having fun.”

“While you were out scoping out the Olympus Mons, I noticed something going on with the seismic sensor. I think it one of its peaks may be ready to pop.”

“That may explain the ambient temperature rise I recorded, Gus. Gravitational increases may be causing the core to heat up again.”

“The last volcanic activity here petered out while the dinosaurs were still kicking on Earth. I think we should keep a closer eye on that sector.”

“Why risk being too close to the Tharsis area? The ash will surely be red and probably bust through the stratosphere… which is at a lower altitude than Earth’s.”

“Precisely. When she blows, you will drive the drone out of the newly created hole in that pesky force-field.”

“You are hoping it will cause a rift, no guarantee when that will happen.”

“I’m betting it will. I’m also betting that the power-that-is, did not anticipate this event – shoot, the mountain is nearly scraping sub-space as it stands now. We can ride right out with the rest of the debris. It will be perfect cover!”

“It is sheer craziness, but it’s worth a try.”

“My daughter is growing up without me and you have that peanut farm to go home to.”

A Gus can hope, can’t he?Image result for pot boiling gif

“Pistachios.” Rick has not lost hope either, “What if we use the laser drill to stir up the magma?”

Who says a watched pot doesn’t boil!”

It will be so written in the bylaws of Cryptomaniacs Anonymous {Milky Way Chapter}:

No member shall be bound to a riddle, if there is a logical way around said riddle; which may result in temporary loss of membership. Reinstatement is not guaranteed.

… It is so recorded on Stardate 2056.64 from the planet Mars of the Terran system in the Milky Way Galaxy.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 129


page 127 (end Ch. 11)