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“Jupiter, Jupiter… we’re coming.”
150 years later, man colonized Mars. Tan Cheng lay on the porthole of the spaceship MARIUS, speaking silently.
“Hey, what are you looking at?” Fareal gave him a push with her elbow. “We've been off for a week, at the current speed, we still have 31 weeks, about 223 days, or 5,352 hours to reach Jupiter, go to get some sleep, it’s a long trip.”
“OK, I'll come right away.” Tan Cheng touched Fareal’s golden hair with his hand.
Tan Cheng is the mission officer of the spaceship MARIUS, Fareal is the commander.
One week ago, they traveled by space ferry bus from the Mars Galileo base to the ZhangHeng*—Sagan space station, which is 500 kilometers above the equator of Mars. Space ferry bus is a light shuttle, it can transport people and goods between the Mars base and the space station. Astronauts are used to calling this shuttle as “slingshot launcher.” Because its launch theory is very like a slingshot. The shuttle is in a cylindrical dock launching platform on the Martian surface, first, the magnet machine pulls the shuttle back, after the spacecraft has accumulated some potential energy, then magnet machine release energy, the shuttle can be ejected from the cylindrical launching platform and into space. A shuttle can take five to 10 people. Around the Galileo base, there are dozens of such slingshot launchers. Beside this, man also built a "tape" transportation system, flat strip shape road, like ribbons, intertwined in the base city's midair. The highway is made of metal with a magnetic system, the car is suspended running in two directions on both sides of the road. From the air, the scenery is quite spectacular.
Tan Cheng and Fareal spent three days on the ZhangHeng—Sagan space station, after adapting to the zero gravity environment, they boarded on the MARIUS deep space work ship, headed to Jupiter!
Their mission is to search for and identify the mysterious signal from Europa.
1825 Earth Days before, Human’s Mars base received a mysterious signal from Europa. It's a messy signal, irregular, no logic, it seems to be a beacon, tell you, “I’m here, come to find me!” The base dispatched two astronauts, Chinese astronaut Tan Cheng and American astronaut Fareal, when Mars and Jupiter are only 550,390,000 kilometers apart, they set out in the direction of the signal.
The Deep Space work ship MARIUS they traveled on was a professional spacecraft specializing in deep space exploration. The hull looks like a bullet. The head of the ship is pointed and the middle is a cylinder. The tail is a larger cylinder with a plasma engine inside. It can propel the spacecraft forward at a speed of up to 100,000 kilometers per hour.
MARIUS was equipped with complete scientific research tools. Man once flew this spaceship to Neptune. Traveling in the solar system is no longer a luxury.
Tan Cheng went back to the living cabin and found that Fareal was already in the capsule. Capsules are actually dormant cabins, it's just like a pill capsule, each dormant cabin is independent, standing on the floor. A rotating shaft is installed in the middle of the capsule, let the whole dormant cabin rotate 360 degrees vertically. This rotating dormant cabin is more suitable for short distance space travel. Tan Cheng looked at Fareal, set a wake-up time for his dormant cabin, took a pill called Aspint, this pill is specially designed for astronauts to reduce cardiopulmonary function and metabolism. Then he got into the cabin, closed the cabin door. The capsule began to rotate slowly.
220 days later, Tan Cheng came out of the capsule and found that Fareal was doing hand and foot strength training. He went up to her and said, “When did you wake up?”
“Hours ahead of you.” Fareal threw the towel in her hand to Tan Cheng. Tan Cheng caught the towel floating over, shaking his head and smiling, started strength recovery training.
“Jupiter, Jupiter, what a beautiful and mysterious planet!” Tan Cheng could not help sighing as he looked out of the window at Jupiter, which was getting nearer and nearer. Jupiter is the greatest lucky star in astrology, Tan Cheng’s Jupiter falls in the twelfth house, and this position of Jupiter gives you a powerful protective force, like an angel on your shoulder. Thinking of this, his confidence had increased a lot.
Fareal had set the space ship for low-speed cruise mode hours ago. She worked out the approach route with a shipboard computer, managed to get the ship close to Europa. 36 hours later, MARIUS reached Europa.
Europa, a planet of hope for life.
“We have entered Europa's stationary orbit.” Fareal sat in the cockpit, busily checking various dials and switches on dashboard to ensure normal work.
“Get ready to land on Europa. Everything's ready.”
“Roger, ‘hot dog’ got it, ready for landing, countdown.” Tan Cheng was in a space suit and was already sitting on the all-terrain vehicle “Hot Dog.” “Hot Dog” was named by him, no why, just because he likes eating hot dog.
“Five, four, three, two, one, go!” Fareal pressed the button on the control panel, The cargo door at the bottom of the spaceship opened, a spherical object about five meters in diameter slowly fell to the surface of Europa 200 meters away.
We can say this is a landing vehicle, but it’s more like a landing ball—the ATV is a transparent sphere with a 10 cm thick nanocomposite shell filled with inert gases that can travel on solid or liquid surfaces. There is a metal track ring on the inside of the sphere, and there are four metal balls on the ring. The ring can rotate 360 degrees along the axis of the sphere. The center of the sphere is the driving seat, only one person can sit on it. The driver's seat is connected to the metal ring by elastic material. Four elastic belts connect the four directions of the driver's seat to the metal ring, so that the driver's seat is suspended in the center of the sphere. No matter how the sphere vibrates, the driver will be in the center of it. As for the operation of the sphere, it is the rolling of the metal ball that generates inertia and drives the whole sphere to roll. For example, if the driver wants the vehicle to go in a certain direction, he controls the metal ring to point in that direction, and then the metal ball on the ring rolls counter-clockwise, then the car runs in that direction. If you want to back the vehicle, control the metal ball to roll clockwise on the ring, then, the ATV, goes back.
When the vehicle reached the ground, Tan Cheng put on a brain-controlled helmet to operate it. The invention of brain-controlled helmet has greatly liberated human hands. By converting brain waves into control signals, it is generally used in the case of high operation requirements and high operation precision, and make the machine response faster and more sensitive.
“Hot Dog, the signal is five kilometers ahead of you, position, three o’clock. I've projected navigation data onto your helmet screen.” Fareal stared at the dashboard screen and said to Tan Cheng.
“Roger, I’m on my way now.” The ring in the sphere rotated 30 degrees to the right, aiming at the target, and then “Hot Dog” start rolling ran quickly on the surface of Europa.
”Well… well, a bit out of control.” Tan Cheng tried hard to control the vehicle. Because of the smooth surface, the vehicle started slippery.
“OK now, easy, I got it.” Soon, he was in control. After all, the vehicle operates through the brain-controlled helmet. As long as the driver's brain is used to the surroundings, the vehicle can run normally.
The emergence of brain-controlled helmet makes it possible for human beings to operate all kinds of equipment more quickly. This is an intelligent revolution in industry and it breaks through barriers to learning unknown things.
The object was on the back of the planet. Tan Cheng turned on the vehicle light, which shone through the transparent spherical shell onto the ground. He looked down at the ground, it’s flat and shimmering all around. He could only feel the intermittent vibration of the sphere as it rolled at high speed.
“I should be galloping on the ice plain now.” Tan Cheng told Fareal.
“You are about to arrive at your destination. Be careful. The terrain there looks more complicated.” Fareal reminded him.
Bang! The vehicle bumped into a projecting rock, it bounced several meters high. “Shit.” He swayed violently in the center of the ball. He immediately pushed a button to make the seat semi-linked and semi-decoupled from the four belts to maintain himself stability. But “Hot Dog” immediately turned on the automatic attitude stabilization system. The metal ring and balls in the sphere rotated and ran in several directions for a while, this transparent big ball stabilized and stopped rolling.
Tan Cheng breathed a sigh of relief.
The screen on the helmet showed the target object was right in front of his eyes. The thing was just in front of him, and on the bare ground there was a crystalline object that looked like a pyramid. It's partially buried underground.
It should be the signal it sent, or who else?
This crystalline object is about 50 centimeters tall and very conspicuous.
“Fareal, I found it, you can recycle it now!”
MARIUS came to the top of the landing vehicle. A robotic arm protrudes from the bottom of the spacecraft.
“Fareal, on my mark, make sure to get it in one time.”
“Yeah, no problem.” Fareal put on a brain-controlled helmet and was ready to grab Crystal object with robotic arm. The drill on the manipulator arm ripped open the surface around the crystal, then tried to grab it with mechanical claw.
“Move forward… backward… higher, little lower.” Under Tan Cheng’s command, 10 minutes later, the robotic arm grabbed the crystal, then transported it to the cargo hold of the spaceship.
Suddenly, the crystal fell off the mechanical claw. “Oh my god, I lost it!” Fareal shouted out. Crystal hit the surface of the planet and then bounced back into the air. Because Europa's gravity is not so strong, the crystal was flying farther and farther.
How to do it? This is an unexpected event that neither of them took into account. But, astronauts are born emergency expert.
Tan Cheng said to Fareal, “Do you remember the game we played in training on Mars? Hole in one.”
“Of course I do, you want to use that way?”
“Yes, with our cooperation, it should be all right.”
“OK, good idea.” Fareal managed to keep the spaceship to the front of the crystal flight path and opened the side hatch door.
“Fareal, keep the height, steady, I’m going to hit the ball.” Tan Cheng drove the vehicle to the rear of the flying crystal. He seized the timing, when the crystal bounced into the air again, it’s almost as high as the hatch door, he controlled the vehicle crashing into the crystal. It was just like, a big ball hit a small ball, completed the batting action.
Under the impact force, the crystal changes the direction of flight, horizontal flight into the waiting hatch door right ahead. Bingo!
MARIUS landed one meter above the ground, side hatch door opened, Tan Cheng controlled the landing vehicle to roll into the spaceship.
In MARIUS cargo hold.
“Just for such a stone? It took us nearly two years.” Fareal made a face.
“Who knows, there are always gains in giving.” Tan Cheng patted Fareal on the shoulder.
The spaceship, carrying crystal, turned around and returned to the martian base.
Six months after returning to Mars base. The Crystal Secret was finally unraveled, along with the secret of Jupiter's Great Red Spot. They called it “Europa Crystal,” it contains valuable information about extraterrestrial civilization. This crystal is the energy core of a space colonial spaceship and belongs to a humanoid civilization from “α Lyrae.”
10 million years ago, this extraterrestrial civilization flew to 10 distant terrestrial planets in ten super huge space colonial spaceships before its own planet was dying. However, the colonial spaceship flying to Earth broken down as it passed Jupiter. Before falling to Jupiter, the crew threw the ship's energy core out of its hull. Eventually, the huge colonial spaceship crashed into Jupiter, and the energy generated by its explosion formed a permanent imprint on the surface of Jupiter—Great Red Spot. Coincidentally, this crystal fell on Europa. The crystal was set to activate after five million years, like the black box of a human aircraft, sent out a signal again.
“So they've been to Earth long ago?” At the Mars base, Tan Cheng asked Dr. Kardashev.
“Yes, prehistoric civilization. Their ancestors already stepped on the earth 200 million years ago. Do you remember the trilobite footprints fossil discovered in 1938?” After a pause he added," Most importantly, the crystal also records the coordinates of nine other terrestrial planets, we don't know if they have succeeded in reaching a new home world, but for us, this is the last answer they left us.”
Jupiter, Jupiter, what a beautiful and mysterious planet!
*Zhang Heng is a famous astronomer in ancient China.