Seconds in Space



Wild legends always erupted whenever anyone, usually a child, asked how the Mars colony got started. It's of my opinion that, deep down, everyone knows the real reasons for establishment of the colony, but what exactly happened in the first days and even the first years, has always been the subject of much conflict and contradiction, even when you read the official versions recorded on Earth.

Although the colony was clearly just a badly thought out commercial venture backed by government money, I have often found myself preferring to re-tell some of these homespun legends of how our little martian village got started instead of the more drier accounts that are probably closer to the truth. My favorite one is about the ship-wrecked astronaut, although of all the legends, it's probably the least likely to be anywhere near the truth. But it just isn't very entertaining when everyone's sitting around a table by gaslight at night to save electricity, to tell their children that the whole community was founded by collective greed and scientific stupidity. On the other hand, the themes of ship-wreck and survival are probably concepts we should all be giving more thought to these days, now that the Earth company is no longer around to keep things going.

The way the legend goes is that some astronaut (a lack of facts is a tradition in Mars folklore) was manning a space station in orbit around the planet. The purpose for the orbiting station was to maintain closer control and coordination of the thousand or so probes that were down on the surface searching for mineral resources. Transmissions with Earth suffered from a frustrating delay and the increasing number of probes being used multiplied the problem.

Everyone back home was expecting big mineral and energy finds on Mars in the early days, but after twenty years of nothing they became desperate. The new orbiting station was hoped to speed up the pace of exploration. It probably would have if it wasn't for the miscalculation of the irregular orbit of an asteroid that was known to be nearby and was now threatening to collide with the space station.



In his attempt to avoid the looming collision with the asteroid, our great nameless ancestor took control of the ship for just a few seconds and descended into an orbit that was much too low and which quickly decayed. This caused the station, and him with it, to crash-land on the surface becoming the very first inhabitant (founding father, some say) of the Mars colony. Interestingly, this entire disaster, caused by only a few seconds of miscalculation, became the trigger that lead to the founding of the entire colony, since the ship-wrecked astronaut's survival proved that the Martian surface environment was livable without expensive and complicated life support systems. Apparently, in the old days, no one could believe that people could just walk around on Mars like it was Earth.

Such are the marvellous folk-tales still being knitted and spun today around kitchen tables in the Mars colony, when instead folks ought to be spending their time coming up with better ways to locate water.

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Image Notes: Tierazon fractals, india inked, tiles a go go, and a few other "effects of unknown origin"

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