From: Geoff Haines-Stiles <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: FROM THE STRATOSPHERE TO YOU! Mars readings (fwd)
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 1996 05:32:18 -0700 (PDT)
>From PBS/NASA-TV procedure to substance. Astronomy educator April Whitt (Fernbank Science Center, Atlanta) and our airborne observer during the Kuiper shows, circulated this material, which has a nice sci-fi feel, as well as helping set "the search for life" in context. Thanks, April. Geoff Haines-Stiles ---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Tue, 20 Aug 1996 16:04:19 -0500 From: April Whitt <email@example.com> Subject: Mars readings Greetings: >From Jay Pasachoff's textbook Understanding Astronomy, chapter 10: The Earth as a Planet. Report of the Martian Academy of Science For centuries we have known Earth as an interesting object in our sky; sometimes it is the mornig star and sometimes it is the evening star. Since it is an inner planet for us, Earth is always within a few hours of rising of setting, so we can never observe it high overhead in a dark sky and through the minimum amount of our atmosphere. The major problem we have in observing Earth is not our atmosphere but its own. Often major portions of earth are covered with white clouds that prevent us from seeing the surface. When we can see throught he clouds,we see that Earth is mostly covered with a blue-greenish dard substance o much lower albedo than the clouds. A smaller fraction of the surface is covered withlighter-colored materials, and this lighter material changes in color somewhat with the seasons. As springtime comes to each hemisphere of Earth the lighter material becomes greenish. There ismuch less of the life-giving carbon-dioxide on Earth than there is in our own atmosphere. But oxygen, a gas that is deadly to us, does exist by itself in Earth's atmosphere, bot as O2 and O3. Earth has ploar caps, one in the north and another in the south and their sizes change with the season. Perhaps they are tremendous reservoirs of carbon dioxide in the form of ice (frozen CO2 ), as are our polar caps. Some Martian scientists, but a minority, think that the polar caps on Earth might partially be made of frozen dihydrogen oxide (H2O), which we call "wet ice" and are planning to take better spectra to study this possibility. They claim that their infrared measurements of Earth's temperature indicate that the planet is too warm for ordinary carbon dioxide ice. Earth is accompanied by a remarkable moon, called Selene. Selene is not too much smaller than the planet Mercury, and ranks in size with the giant moons of Jupiter and Saturn. This is unusual because Earth is a martian planet rather than a giant planet, and planets oridnarily have moons that are only about one-thousandth of their sizes. Selene, on the contrary, is approximately one-fourth the diameter of its primary, and as much as 1/81 of the primary's mass. The seasonal changes that we have detected on Earth have not been seen on Selene. For the last few years, we have sent a series of rockets to Earth. The Terra 1 and Terra 2 did not succeed in traveling the long distance to Earth, but Terra 3 flew by at a adistance of 8 billion centirams (remember that 1 centiram is the length of the left antenna of Queen Schrip, who reigned from the year 15,363 to 16, 437) and suceeded in getting a series of photographs from close up. They showed a planet that is mostly covered with maria, which correspond to the darker areas. Radar reflectivities indicate that they may be covered with dihydorgen oxide. There are mountain areas and very few craters. The largest peaks are smaller than our own volcanoes, and the largest canyon, in a raised land mass that extends from slightly above the equator far into the southern hemisphere, is about the size of our own Great Canyon. Since Earth is a larger planet than ours, these canyons and mountains are smaller than ours with respect to the size of the planet. Terra 4 went into orbit around Earth, and took a series of photographs over its ten phobon lifetime (one phobon, of course, is the length of time it takes for Phobos to orbit the Mars, and corresponds to about 1/100 of an Earth selenth.) Four relatively smooth areas were chosen as prime landing sites. Terra 5 attempted a crash landing on Earth last year, and succeeded in slowing its velocity as it passed through Earth's considerable atmosphere. But contact wiht it was lost a few seconds after landing' perhaps it was covered oer by whatever materials makes up the greenish areas. Those of our scientists who say that is material is dihydrogen oxide claim that this mysterious disappearance supports their theory. We have not been able to establish the presence of any intelligent life on the planet. Indeed, the presence of life would seem to depend on establishing that for Earth, as on the Mars, the seasonal blowing of dust that takes place provides shelter from solar radiation for individual Earthians, assuming that they, as we, cannot stand exposure to sunlight. We look for signs of Earthian work. Some of our intelligence analysts think that they have detected a long serpentine streak traversing one of the continents and some signs of a checkerboard pattern on a large scale, which could indicate the presence of agriculture. But these detections are marginal, and must be checked further. (same source) A somewhat later look in the Martian archives might turn up the following ideas, as reported by Paul A. Weiss of the Rockefeller Institute. A summary of our report is that we have discovered lifeon Earth! It is the discovery of the millenium for us Martians. From a height of 5 million rams, we could see streaks of light moving like waves across the landscape, often in two channels right next to each other, flowing in opposite directions. When we came closer, we saw that each luminous knot had an independent existence and had two white lights in front and two red lights behind. They were phototactic, attracted by a flickering light source. But rather than rush into the source, they stopped just short of it and formed a crystalline array. Then they remained immobile, perhaps sleeping. Their luminous activity diminished. Inside these Earthians, we eventually discovered even smaller objects, probably parasites. They are lodged, for the most part, in te interior of the Earthians. They never stray far off fromthe Earthians, even when they are disgorged, sothey must be dependent on the Earthians for sustenance. The parasites are more numerous in larger hosts; since host size indicates host age, the accessory bodies obviously multiply inside the hosts as the latter grow. We can show that the Earthians are alive, for they metabolize by taking in sustenance suckinin through tubes inserted in their rears. They give off wastes mostly as gas and smoke. Some areas of Earth are positively fouled with the waste products. We also noted signs of grooming, with a wiping motion, but only in front. Astonishingly, this was started and stopped in sychrony by all members of the population, which may imply that the Earthians have brains. And a poetry offering: This one's on the album "William Shatner Live", on Lemli Records, copyright 1970 by Jane Hipolito and Willis E. McNelly (back when albums were records, not CDs): Earthbound He was one of Bradbury's kind of people, Who early took to wings. Jumped first from the barn roof at home, Then the church steeple, And when his bones were finally out of slings Took off from Baldy's snowy dome, Landing this time in a tree, And still denied the pull of gravity. Instead he dug the pull of endless time and space. Gazed nightly at the stars, read Verne and Wells, Became an active flying ace, And dreamed of setting foot on - where else? - Mars! Or was it old Barsoom? He watched the astronauts return two times >From walking on the Moon And swore he'd break the bonds that held him. Soon. And then one day They came. Out of the bog Behind the Carter place. Took himand his dog For one swift silent spin in outer space, To Mars itself and back again. I only know they disappeared one day And were gone a long, long time away. Since they came back, they mostly sit and look At the green trees, the garden, and the brook.