THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 160

1 Comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 160

…Deimostra Samantha McKinney is born almost two weeks premature, paradoxically so on April 1st 2030…

…our space heroes are indeed alive, with an infant conceived on the way to – now a citizen baby of Mars. Deimostra Samantha McKinney was born almost two weeks premature, paradoxically so on April 1st 2030. Deimostra {Deimos} is certainly an uncommon name for such a cute blond-haired blue-eyed baby girl, so named for one of Mars’ reliable, if not fickle moons; Phoebe {Phobos} would have been too easy. As one would guess, her middle name is the feminine form of father Sam, an everyday tag she will carry as “Sammy”, the affectionate term she has already responded positively to.

If delivering a baby on another planet were not challenge enough, add in the aged-41 aspect, she-mom-herself-in-labor had to coach “Dad” through the entire birthing process; no small task when massive pain is dominating every two minutes or so and they are using medical facilities that does not accommodate childbirth (as earthlings would know it).

So, as they had done with all the other strange devices and workings of the NEWFOUNDLANDER, they modify, improvise, and utilize. Considering that Sammy will spend much of her first six months in artificially enhanced gravity, she will surely be hailed as a miracle on Earth; Baby Announcements are in the mail.

Their hope of rescue hinges on a leap-of-faith; the faith that NASA knows that the reluctant Mars colonists have finite survival resources and that their “ride home” should be arriving any day now.

For the crew and launchers of the New Mayflower, they have been assuming that Sampson & Celeste had indeed survived the loss of the orbiting station and are waiting anxiously for its appearance.

These nagging, creeping doubts, that growing suspicion that the NASA did not or could not pull the rescue trigger, has hastened Sampson’s attempts to master the propulsion mystery of the idled NEWFOUNDLANDER. It is a singular quest, considering that if they must, they could live out their natural lives, perhaps exceeding the current 100 year life span. After all, carbon analysis of their lone Newfoundlian cabin/cohabitant indicates he died at the ripe old age of 700 and perhaps older than that. And this was achieved with a body that is eventually victimized by an undetermined alien fate. So immortality may or may not be part of their alien equation.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 160


page 151

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 18

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 18

…As leader of this outpost, I feel it is my duty to inform you that Space Colony 1 will welcome one and all. May we all live long and prosper.”

live long and prosper by Jessaa Lee Odinson

The task of preparing Tycho for its maiden mission will occupy the both colony pioneers, right up until departure time.

Mostly.

Celeste (McKinney) has been at a disadvantage ever since she set eyes on the Colony station. Most of her waking time since is spent giving herself first-hand knowledge, by manual or blueprint, unlike the Commander (McKinney), who was hands-on in its assembly and knows every square millimeter and circuit.

In the highest reaches of her temporary home is her single significant contribution; a magnificent botanical garden. Not only does this green slice of Earth provide genuine oxygen and humidity, it also is a refuge for those lonely, miss my boys moments. The station’s orbit keeps it in the continual good graces of this solar system’s life enhancing star; its and radiant sunlight. A person cannot get a tan up here, but it sure can help with the inevitable homesickness.

As she passes through the dome, dodging trees, flowers, and yes the insects that are along for the ride, Celeste cannot resist the peeking through the only observation telescope, though its 1500x magnification is more on a scale of looking glass by comparison.

The ladder-tram takes her to the lens viewer, where she is able to take in the wonder of Mars, close up and personal. As she pans the scanning angle, she becomes the first human to inspect (in person) the minuscule moons of the Red Planet: Phobos and Deimos are trailing one another, at different Image result for the moons of marsdistances above, with Phobos held by Mother Mars more closely. It is as if the Greek god of War had himself tested his arm strength by tossing two oddly shaped boulders out away from Mount Olympus, only to have them fall into the gravitational influence of his distant namesake.

Featureless in appearance, save the pockmarks caused by the millennium passing of meteors, the two moons possess their own engaging character and granite loyalty; mini-chunks of primordial leftovers, attendants to a world that still holds many secrets, in spite of the crisscrossing tracks left behind by NASA’s last attempt at exploration.  But those “little rovers that could” paths are on the other side of the planet. This here is virgin territory.

Sampson, for his part, must be getting restless. This could explain him declaring boldly, “This is your Commander speaking.As leader of this outpost, I feel it is my duty to inform you that Space Colony 1 will welcome all members of World Space Consortium, providing they contribute to the common good; meeting the needs of the collective, each according to his or her abilities. May we all live long and prosper.”

“Ya-da, ya-da, ya-da,” responds the station’s only other sentient being.


 THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 18


page 17

Getting to Know Our Neighbors – WIF Solar System Perspective

Leave a comment

Fascinating Mysteries

of the Planet Mars

For being one of the closest objects to us celestially, we still know about as much about the planet Mars as we do the depths of the ocean. Which is to say, not a lot. The things we’ve seen in pop culture about Mars makes us conjure a red, dusty planet where Matt Damon grows poop potatoes. But there’s more to Mars than that.

Mars is the second smallest planet in the solar system (with only about 10 percent of Earth’s mass), yet Earth and Mars have about the same amount of actual land. Mars also has the tallest mountain in the entire known solar system. Mars’ largest moon, Phobos, will be torn from the planet’s orbit one day, creating a ring that will last hundreds of millions of years. Those are some really cool things that we know about the planet. But there still remain many Martian mysteries that we haven’t quite figured out yet.

10. Mars has two drastically different hemispheres

The northern and southern hemispheres of Earth may have different kinds of topography, but they’re relatively similar. Mars, on the other hand, has a much lower and flatter northern hemisphere, while the southern hemisphere has an average elevation that’s about 3 miles higher. That’s a pretty drastic difference, geologically speaking, and no other planet we know of exhibits such a trait.

Scientists once thought that a huge asteroid could have crashed into the top half of Mars early in its life, making a much flatter northern hemisphere. Later computer simulations rendered that theory less than ideal, unless the asteroid only glanced against the planet. Like a big, rocky kiss that flattened part of Mars. Newer theories suggest that the resulting magma flow from such a cosmic punch would have inundated the southern hemisphere, creating the resulting terrain elevation difference.

9. Mars has a lot of methane (usually produced by living things)

We humans normally come across a slight knowledge of methane amounts from jokes about cow farts. And that’s part of it. Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to the rising warmth of Earth. It’s trapped in our atmosphere and causes the temperature of our planet to rise even more than carbon dioxide does.

Mars, curiously, has a lot of methane too. But here’s the kicker: methane is usually released by living things. At least for the most part. So why is a planet that we’ve never discovered life on releasing a bio-signature? Well, we don’t know yet. It could have been trapped under ice for ages, or caused by a release from ancient microbes on the planet, or even from a freak chemical reaction. We do know that a plume of methane was detected by spacecraft in Mars’ orbit more than once, which is notable because the gas is finicky to pick up, especially in such a thin atmosphere that the planet possesses.

8. Mars has signs of water, but it can’t be from the surface

The discovery of ice near the poles of Mars sent ripples throughout the scientific community in 2008. If there’s ice, that means there’s water, and if there’s water, that means there could be life, right? Well slow down there, Andretti, because there’s a lot more going on here.

Yes, there have been more and more spottings of icy polar caps and frost-filled craters. And that’s really cool. But what if we told you there was a subterranean lake of standing water on Mars? It shouldn’t be possible. Liquids at that depth from the surface should have a temperature of -68 degrees Celsius. Orbiting satellites have yet to get a visual on this “lake,” but that could be hard since, you know, it’s underground. And of course a portion of the science community is using this to prove that life on Mars is an indisputable truth. It is pretty tempting, especially if you think back to how and where we humans began.

7. Can we live on Mars?

This one seems pretty straightforward. It would be a hard no, correct? At least with the technological capabilities we have currently? And the atmosphere is way different than Earth’s, so we couldn’t just walk around like we do in everyday life.

Yet in direct defiance of all things holy and sane, NASA is determined to get the ball rolling on human colonization of Mars. By 2030, they think they’ll get feet on the red planet. Radiation is an obvious concern if we were to ever set up shop there, so underground shelters would be a requisite. We can’t grow food in the soil. Like, at all. But, humans had to start from scratch here on Earth, so we would likely at some point find a way to use Mars’ alien resources to develop new methods of survival. There really isn’t a way to know how we could fare on Mars, long-term, until the first people reach the planet.

6. Why did Mars totally change its climate?

One billion years, in the grand scheme of the universe, isn’t much at all. Four billion years ago, judging from the vast veins of old waterbeds on Mars’ surface, water flowed all over the planet. Since we know that Mars is about four and a half billion years old, science can say with some certainty that the red, dusty planet we think of now actually used to be quite moist.

Then somewhere along the way in the next few billion years, something happened. The atmosphere of Mars starting disappearing. The sun reached the next stages in the life cycle of a star and became hotter. So how did the red planet continue to have water in a place in the universe where the sun should have evaporated it all? Scientists have a pretty cool-sounding theory that maybe Mars was in orbit much closer to the sun, closer to Venus, and then began trailing behind like a C student, eventually ending up where it presently resides. It’s also about the best answer we currently have, because we don’t even really know why Earth has water.

5. We don’t know much about Mars’ two moons

For being as close as it is to Earth, we know very little about Mars, and even less about Mars’ two weird moons, Phobos and Deimos. Some think they may have possibly been asteroids that were snagged into orbit by Mars, but the problem with that theory is that the shapes and angles of the moons don’t necessarily fit that scenario. More likely, something struck Marshard, and flung the eventual moons out into orbit.

While we’re in the realm of the weird, there are some formations on Phobos that would give conspiracy theorists night sweats. There’s what seems to be a large rectangular monolith on Phobos, standing over 90 meters tall. While it’s likely just an abnormal chunk of Martian rock, it’s still pretty notable.

4. What caused the bright white light in a 2019 photo?

When you are in charge of receiving photos of Mars from a rover light years away, you might be taken aback when you see a picture with a bright white spot where there shouldn’t be one. An image taken in June 2019 by the Curiosity rover showed a weird white glow emanating in the distance behind some hills.

Aliens were the immediate explanation by non-scientists, as you would expect. But it was most likely a lens flare or a cosmic ray, and NASA admittedly has captured tons of these things. The white anomaly doesn’t show up in pictures taken immediately before or after the event, and the team that created the Curiosity’s camera system says that they come across oodles of pictures with bright spots every week. Still, can they prove it was a lens flare? That seems exactly like something aliens would say to throw us off.

3. What lines the dry ice pits at Mars’ poles?

We mentioned before that the poles of Mars contain some known deposits of ice, which means liquid, which means potential for life. We also know that near the southern pole is a sub-glacial lake, the first known stable body of water we’ve found on the planet. What’s really interesting about those polar caps is that nearby there are some pits of dry ice that are lined with … well, we don’t really know.

There is some kind of dust that lines these gorgeous pits. They’re huge, some of them two hundred feet across. There is a possibility that the dust they’re lined with what could be gold, but we still don’t know for sure.

2. How do Mars’ giant dust storms happen?

Dust-Storm-On-Mars

The thin, brittle atmosphere on Mars is absolutely perfect for some truly epic dust storms that can shoot particles at speeds of over 60 MPH and, in some cases, cover the entire planet for weeks at a time.

Thing is, those planetary-scale dust storms still hold a lot of mystery in them. We think that they may be the largest dust storms in the solar system, and since the planet is essentially a desert, it doesn’t take much to get them rolling. And while science is pretty sure that sunshine is the catalyst, they aren’t too sure how they get to become so massive. One theory thinks that the dust particles are warmed by the sunlight, which then warm the thin atmosphere, causing more wind, and thus capturing more particles in a repeating cycle. We, of course, still say aliens.

1. Did Earth life come from Mars?

Bear with us here, because we’re about to get weird. So, perhaps you’re already passingly familiar with the basic theories of how life began: Big Bang, primordial ooze, etc. Well, early on in Earth’s history, the building blocks of life were pretty much non-existent. Remember how we mentioned that early Mars could have been a quintessential Goldilocks planet? What if the essentials for life came from outer space, survived the trip on a meteorite, for example, and arrived on Earth and evolved there? It’s something science is highly considering.

It’s called panspermia, and it suggests life arrived on our home planet in the form of spores. So basically, life may have arrived on Earth, not started on Earth. The primordial soup version of life-building holds some water, sure, but it’s that exact water that almost kills RNA (a fundamental part of genetics) in its tracks. Minerals like boron and molybdenum give life to RNA, and those were plentiful on Mars four billion years ago. So when we talk about aliens on Mars, we’re probably just referring to our last universal common ancestor.


Getting to Know Our Closest Neighbor –

WIF Solar System Perspective

FYI The Red Planet

Leave a comment

 

10 Interesting Facts About Mars

There’s something magical about the planet Mars that easily catches our eye and piques our interest. Whether it’s the blood-red hue, its similarity to Earth, or the possibility that we may one day be able to live on it, we always seem to find something new to love about our red neighbor.

 There’s a lot more to the planet than you may know however. Such as …

10. Mars Has Lower Gravity Than Earth

mars-gravity

People suffering from obesity would be delighted to know that there is a very simple yet highly effective way of losing tremendous amounts of weight instantly. There’s no need for diets, exercise, pills, or even surgery. All they need to do is go to Mars.

Mars has lower gravity than Earth. To be exact, Martian gravity is 62% lower than that of our own planet. This simply means that a person weighing 220 pounds here on Earth would weigh around 87 pounds on Mars. That’s a difference of 133 pounds! And bouncing around an alien planet sounds way more fun than munching on salad.

Of course, the weight loss is artificial, as weight and mass are two very different things. Basically, gravity is determined by two important factors: mass and energy. The more mass and energy a planet has, the more powerful its gravity is. Earth is 1.8794 times bigger than Mars, so it has more mass and energy than the Red Planet. As such, it has stronger gravity. The more gravity a planet has, the “heavier” its inhabitants become.

If you’re curious to know how much you weigh on Mars, then head over to this page.

9. Mars Has Some Debris Here on Earth

mars-meteorite

As of today, there are 100 known Martian meteorites found scattered all over the Earth. For many years, scientists strongly claimed that these meteorites were of Martian origin, but they had no conclusive evidence to prove the veracity of their claims.

However, just recently, NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover made a remarkable discovery that helped scientists proved, once and for all, that these Martian meteorites, such as the Black Beauty and the NWA 7533, indeed originated from Mars. Mars’ atmosphere contains two argon isotopes: argon-36 and argon-38. Aside from Mars, these two argon isotopes are also found elsewhere in the solar system. NASA’s Curiosity rover discovered that there is a ratio of 4.2 argon-36 to every single atom of argon-38 in Mars’ atmosphere (4.2 to 1). In connection with the Martian meteorites found here on Earth, scientists analyzed them and came up with the measurement of 3.6 to 4.5 atoms of argon-36 to very single atom of argon-38 (3.6 – 4.5 to 1).

In simpler terms, the argon ratio found on Mars’s atmosphere is nearly identical to the argon ratio found in the meteorites discovered here on Earth, proving that they are indeed of Martian origin.

8. Mars Has Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter

mars-winter

Just like Earth, Mars has four seasons. But unlike our planet, the seasons in Mars don’t have the same length. In the northern hemisphere of the Red Planet, spring lasts for 7 months, summer for 6 months, all for 5.3 months, and winter for 4 months.

Mars’ axis, like that of the Earth’s, is tilted away from the Sun. In fact, the Red Planet’s tilt is much greater than that of the Earth. Earth’s axis tilt is only 23 degrees, while Mars’ is 25 degrees.

Aside from the big four, Mars experiences two other seasons, called the perihelion and aphelion. Unlike the Earth, Mars’ orbit is greatly elliptical, which means that its distance from the sun is unstable. Perihelion is the season where Mars is closest to the Sun, while aphelion is when it is in its farthest. We don’t experience these two additional seasons because Earth’s orbit is almost perfectly circular. This simply means that our planet’s distance from the sun stays nearly the same throughout the year.

7. Mars Has the Biggest, Most Violent Dust Storms in the Solar System

Dust-Storm-On-Mars

People planning to colonize Mars might have an extremely difficult time succeeding in inhabiting this planet due to its big, violent dust storms. Mars might be small, but it sure is capable of producing the largest and most destructive dust storms in our solar system. NASA scientists first observed the violent storms in Mars through photos sent by Mariner 9 in 1971. This spacecraft was expected to send close-up pictures of the Red Planet, but the scientists were disappointed when it transmitted photos of a gigantic, violent dust storm ravaging the planet. It took a month before the storm subsided, and Mariner 9 was able to take and send back clear photos.

Scientists don’t know exactly why the dust storms in Mars are big, violent, and last for a long time. However, they do know that sunshine provides the fuel needed to create these destructive dust storms. Theoretically, what happens is that the dust particles present in Mars’ atmosphere absorb sunshine. They then raise the temperature of the atmosphere surrounding them. Afterwards, these heated dust particles travel to cold regions while produce strong winds simultaneously. Eventually, these winds gather more dust from Mars’ surface, and as a result, the temperature in the atmosphere increases even further. And since Mars is a global desert, it has an unlimited source of dust, hence the endless storms.

6. Mars Is a Two-Faced Planet

mars-hemispheres

One very interesting characteristic of the Red Planet is that it has two faces: its northern and southern hemispheres are extremely different from each other. Mars is like two planets combined into one. The northern hemisphere of Mars is smooth and flat while its southern hemisphere is very rugged, consisting of numerous mountains and craters. Aside from that, the southern hemisphere has a thicker crust compared to that of the northern hemisphere.

There are many theories explaining the disparity between Mars’ northern and southern hemispheres. However, one highly plausible explanation that scientists have recently proven is that a single asteroid impact might have caused the duality of Mars’ appearance. Basing on the data provided by the Mars Global Surveyor and NASA’s Mars Odyssey, scientists were able to discover a huge crater hidden below a lava found in the northern hemisphere. This crater is gigantic, as big as Europe, Asia, and Australia combined!  After finding this crater,scientists ran a series of computer-simulated impacts to find out the size and velocity of the asteroid capable of creating such a massive crater. They came up with an asteroid that is the same size as Pluto and travelling at the speed of 32,000 kilometers per hour, which might have caused Mars to have two faces.

5. Mars Has the Biggest Volcano and the Tallest Mountain in the Solar System

Olympus-Mons

We all know that Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain here on Earth. Now, imagine a mountain that is three times taller. That would be the tallest mountain in the Solar System—Olympus Mons of Mars. In addition to being the tallest, Olympus Mons is also considered the biggest volcano in the Solar System.

One theory that explains why Mars has many massive volcanoes like Olympus Mons is that its tectonic plates, or crust, rarely moves. This inactivity in tectonic plate movement allowed the magma that erupted from Olympus Mons and other Martian volcanoes to gather in the same surface. Eventually, these volcanoes stopped spewing magma after the Red Planet’s core cooled off. And without magma, Olympus Mons and other Martian volcanoes stopped increasing in length and size.

4.  Mars Is Going to Kill One of Its Moons in the Future

Phobos-and-Mars

Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos. Out of these two, Phobos is going to be annihilated by Mars in the future. Compared to Deimos, Phobos is a lot bigger, with a diameter of 27 x 22 x 18 kilometers. One interesting fact about this Martian moon is that it orbits Mars three times daily, at the distance of only 9,378 kilometers! This distance is significantly lower compared to that of the Earth’s moon, which travels around our planet at the safe distance of 384,000 kilometers.

NASA scientists have calculated that every 100 years, Phobos is getting closer and closer to Mars at the alarming rate of 1.8 meters. Based on this movement, NASA has theorized that Phobos only has 50 million years left to live. It will ultimately dissolve into a ring or completely crash into the Red Planet.

3. Mars Once Had Rivers, Lakes, and an Ocean

mars-water

When Giovanni Sciaparelli created the first map of the Red Planet in 1877, he included certain land features which he called canali, or “channels” in English. However, this word was mistranslated in some books — instead of “channels,” canali was translated into “canals”. This mistake led many people to believe that Mars had water. This belief was refuted when NASA’s Mariner proved that these “canalis” were just optical illusions.

However, recent findings made by scientists show that Mars indeed once harbored water. In fact, it once had rivers, lakes, and an ocean. New evidences prove that the McLaughlin Craterfound on Mars might have been a lake billions of years ago. This new claim was made after scientists found remnants of carbonates and clay on the McLaughlin Crater. Clay and carbonates are produced when there is water.

In addition, the Mars Express, which was sent by the European Space Agency (ESA), has found sedimentary deposits on Mars’ surface. These Martian sedimentary deposits might prove that Mars once had a big ocean billions of years ago. If Mars had a big ocean, then what happened to its water? There are two possible explanations presented by Dr. Jeremie Mouginot of the University of California. According to him, the water in this big Martian ocean might have changed into vapor or have been transformed and then hidden in a frozen state under the surface of the Red Planet.

2.  Mars Was Once Believed to Be Inhabited

martians

If you tell people today that Mars is inhabited, they will surely laugh at you and tell you that you’re a fool. But if say the same piece of information a hundred years ago, people would have definitely believed you. Yes, people from the past strongly believed that the Red Planet was inhabited by Martians.

This false belief all started when Giovanni Schiaparelli, as stated above, created the first map of Mars. The land formation he saw on the surface of Mars, which he called “canali”, led many people to believe that Mars had water and inhabitants. This claim was further strengthened when, in 1888, people saw bright flashes on the surface of Mars. This bizarre phenomenon led many scientists to publish articles and books about the Red Planet. One particular book that contributed significantly to the belief of the existence of Martians was Camille Flammarion’s La planète Mars et ses conditions d’habitabilité. After reading this book, Percival Lowell, a wealthy man from Boston, became obsessed with Mars. He devoted his life to studying Mars, and he eventually came up with his own map of the Red Planet, which also featured canals. He published his findings in various magazines, newspapers, and repots. Lowell’s contributions further made the notion that Martians existed more famous to the public.

In addition, this false belief was further solidified when two men claimed that they were contacted by Martians. Many people believed them. In fact, the United States Navy strongly believed their claims that they agreed to help in contacting the allegedly existing Martians. Of course, they were unsuccessful in their quest of creating contact with the Red Planet dwellers since, as we all know, they do not exist.

1. Mars Might Have Been the Original Source of Life

Boron-from-Mars

While this claim might initially be very difficult to believe in, there actually is a legitimate study that supports it. Steve Benner of The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology in Florida believes that life on Earth might have started on Mars. Scientists believe that life started on Earth around 3.5. billion years ago, and that two elements—boron and oxidized molybdenum—were needed in order to give it the necessary kick start.

However, during the period of time when life on Earth was supposed to have begun, boron and oxidized molybdenum were nonexistent. At this time, the Earth had very little oxygen, and this element is needed for the creation of oxidized molybdenum. Furthermore, our planet was completely covered in water, and boron can only exist in places that are extremely dry.

Benner’s theory suggests that oxidized molybdenum and boron might have originally come from Mars. They eventually came to our planet by riding on Martian meteorites and asteroids. Furthermore, these Martian meteorites were examined, and it was discovered that they contained boron. This finding further proves that Mars might have truly been the original source of life.


 “You can read some good old-fashioned Science Fiction involving Mars (by Gwenny) THE RETURN TRIP BY CLICKING ON THE LINK below”

 for THE RETURN TRIP

for THE RETURN TRIP

MCKINNEY - THE RETURN TRIP-001


 

FYI

WIF Space2-001

The Red Planet