Ch1. The Gale crater

My hands look odd, long and lumpy fingers. Strong fingers. This is the first thing I acknowledge after opening my eyes on the new training field. Everything around is red. I am on a kind of caldera limiting the horizon to only a few kilometres. Somewhere in front of me a volcanic cone is towering over everything else, the only visible thing outside the crater trap.  I switch my attention back to my body. The same weird look as my fingers. I am tall, very tall, difficult to estimate, maybe more than two and half meters. I lost the battle with Houston about genetic transformations on alien planets after she let slip to me that this already happened -several times in previous training trips.

I start to move and a red dust floats after each step. “Is this Mars?” I ask my invisible Cerberus.

“Yes” her slightly amused figure materializes in front of me. In her coded message the thin smile is a mix of approval of my past training and ‘waiting to see’ how I will solve the next puzzle.

“What temporal period?”

“Many thousands of years in the past.” The same evasive answer I receive each time she considers the information too sensitive for my brain. Thus I start to consider a possible danger around me.

“What place is this?”

“Gale crater.”

“I know that name.”

“Yes, a rover mission will land here in several months. Earth time of course.”

“Curiosity rover?”

“Yes, a spark of human imagination. The name, I mean.”

“I can breathe, I have no oxygen mask.”

“Mars was once inhabited. Harsh environment but life has strength. With these new lungs you can sleep an hour under water.”

“What is different? I still look very human. I suppose that I am so tall due to the lower gravity. I feel my body as normal. No strange sensations or unnatural powers.”

“There is nothing unnatural in life. Specialized haemoglobin, long term adaptation to this harsh environment. Yes, you are human as every civilization in this galaxy is.”

“Why are you staying with me?”

“I can leave if you feel me a burden.”

“It is not this; I have a sensation of danger. I cannot explain it. This is not my first trip to another planet yet something is wrong. Your presence here tells the same story.”

“It is up to you to figure out if there is something or not.” Helpful as always. I am sure she read my thought but didn’t bother to answer. Neither I was to continue.

Somewhere in front of me there are some strange ruins. Very decrepit, very old, almost a sandy mound, many thousands of years – an uneducated guess. The obvious point to start with and also the suggesting that NASA knows about them, or at least has some information about strange things existing in this crater.



  1. Time traveling brings a little warmth in this science fiction blog, Because of you, there is a little more grateful in my life, Because of you, there is more wonderful in life~~~hope each blog can give you a little help and make you enjoying them!!!! Mars is wonderful, a lot of warm red everywhere in that cold.

  2. Now that Curiosity is safely down, planetary scientists can look forward to an unfolding story of unparalleled geological detail. I only hope that information will be free. There is that issue related to Viking that traces of life were found but considered to be inconclusive by NASA.
    The outline of Mars’s life story has already been analyzed. It starts billions of years ago when Mars was a warmer, wetter, more habitable place and ends in today’s climate disaster: a barren, airless desert.
    The question is whether this was a gradual process, in which Mars changed slowly over a billion or so years, or whether it was much quicker. A gradual scenario may be more conducive to the establishment of widespread life in Mars’s past.
    However, images from Esa’s Mars Express spacecraft suggest that the wet conditions disappeared early, reappearing in five sporadic volcanic episodes that saw huge flash floods sculpt the planet’s surface.
    So, with the determination of whether there is or was life on Mars as the chief aim of Nasa’s Mars Exploration Programme, planetary scientists now need details about the planet’s past climate.
    I find the climate study to be secondary, the robot can determine by analyzing chemical reaction if there is or there is not life on Mars. With some chance it is possible to find something that proves life was there in the past.

  3. It is interesting that NASA officials are naming Curiosity landing site on Mars “Yellowknife” after the capital of the Northwest Territories in Canada. This is a place where geologists discovered one of the oldest rocks on Earth.
    The “rocks underneath the ones named Yellowknife are the oldest rocks we’ve found on Earth. They are almost 4 billion years old,” as scientists from the University of California-Davis discovered. I suppose that he rocks we’re looking at on Mars are also billions of years old and so there is a nice relationship that way and one of the reasons for choosing Gale crater for landing. The possible landing area was divided into about 1-mile-by-1-mile quads, or squares.
    Another interesting thing is that Curiosity happened to land in Quad 51. If there is any link between the famous area 51 in Nevada or is a simple coincidence we will never know. The official answer is that the quad Curiosity landed in has this rich geologic history. The geologic history on Mars is one of the main subject of the Curiosity rover journey on the planet.

  4. The 1976 photographs of the Cydonia region of Mars showed a human-like face. The so-called “Face on Mars” rose to international fame with one question on everybody’s lips: Was it a sign for us from extraterrestrials? Where were the builders of this magnificent monument?
    Maybe Curiosity will give us the answer to our questions as it has the last state of teh art technology. The MastCam system provides multiple spectra and true-color imaging with two cameras. The cameras can take true-color images at 1600×1200 pixels and up to 10 frames per second hardware-compressed, video at 720p (1280×720).
    One MastCam camera is the Medium Angle Camera (MAC), which has a 34 mm focal length, a 15-degree field of view, and can yield 22 cm/pixel scale at 1 km. The other camera in the MastCam is the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC), which has a 100 mm focal length, a 5.1-degree field of view, and can yield 7.4 cm/pixel scale at 1 km. (Malin also developed a pair of Mastcams with zoom lenses, but these were not included in the rover because of the time required to test the new hardware and the looming November 2011 launch date.)

    Each camera has eight GB of flash memory, which is capable of storing over 5,500 raw images, and can apply real time lossless data compression.The cameras have an autofocus capability that allows them to focus on objects from 2.1 m (6 ft 11 in) to infinity. In addition to the fixed RGGB Bayer pattern filter, each camera has an eight-position filter wheel. While the Bayer filter reduces visible light throughput, all three colors are mostly transparent at wavelengths longer than 700 nm, and have minimal effect on such infrared observations
    There will be no way to say that images are confusing due to low quality cameras as in the past.

    The last good news from Mars: Curiosity did an arm testing after controllers held back on new commanding due to a caution about a temperature reading on the arm. These include a checkout of the tool turret at the end of the arm and a test using vibration of the sample processing device on the arm.

    And as a amusing thing Curiosity Rover has left a mark on Mars that is visible from space. The rover’s maiden journey across the Red Planet has left tire tracks that have been photographed by the high resolution camera on NASA’s Mars Reconaissance Orbiter.

  5. The planet Mars has provided conspiracy theorists and pseudoscientists with a bewildering array of stories for well over a hundred years.
    Seems that the rover is working well on Gale crater. If any artifacts will be found here the conspiracy theorists will be vindicated. Anyway nice time traveling story.

    When Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli first suggested in 1877 there may be “man-made” canals on Mars, our knowledge of the Red Planet was extremely limited to say the least.

    Since the canals, we’ve had glass tubes, lost cities, pyramids and the infamous “Face on Mars”. Some of the wackier Mars conspiracies would have us believing the planet is littered with old Nazi military hardware and even dinosaurs.
    The majority of these absurd claims are based on faulty interpretations of low resolution photography, but others are nothing more than wilful hoaxing and Photoshop tampering. It seems that where outlandish Mars theories are concerned, it is the planet that just keeps on giving.

    With the August 5th landing of the Mars Curiosity Rover – part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL), the chances of finding new anomalies have multiplied dramatically. Indeed, we only needed to wait mere minutes for the first sensational headlines to appear from excitable “researchers”.

    1. Conspiracy theorists have their role in pushing for truth. This doesn’t mean that all of them are doing a good job. Chances of an old civilization on Mars are slim at best. But books about martians and time traveling are indeed nice to read. Curiosity rover has good quality cameras so if anything there will be recorded.

      I read with amazement the The Washington Post story about the landing on Mars by NASA’s rover, Curiosity, and the first day of exploration of the Gale crater near its equator. Immediately I was drawn to the original video of the 2,000-pound vehicle’s exit from the shuttle and first “steps.”

      Overwhelmed by the magnitude of this achievement, I also worried that our children might not be so impressed and the adults might be too caught up in red and blue politics to focus on the red planet.

      Watching the first moon walk and growing up when the space program was something we Americans talked about at the dinner table and dreamed about, I was immediately awestruck.

      And then it got better. NASA released high-definition photos and now the high-definition video has been released. What an achievement. Photos compiled from the descent camera by effects artists have become an amazing video!

      It’s not so amazing that humans can travel to conventions to make speeches, that there is controversy about issues or that protesters show up in Tampa or Charlotte. Really, Curiosity is far more interesting and lends itself to better learning opportunities for our kids.

  6. Interesting timing between teh book and the landing on Gale crater. If anything spectacular will be found there then it is more than a coincidence. And i

  7. You have brought up a very courious points about Gale crater, appreciate it for the post. I don’t really think that time travel is possible but books about this subject will always be in demand. In the end any imagination game is interesting.

  8. Maybe the reason for landing Curiosity IN Gale Crater is not to look for water but to look for ancient ruins. If you had the task of deciding where to land on Mars, wouldn’t you choose a site using orbiting spacecraft photos which show unusual signs of intelligent life?
    This place indicates NASA is looking for far more on Mars than just following their mantra they endless repeat, “Follow the water…follow the water…” On Earth when you look at coastlines, lakes and streams you will also find all the major cities around the world. If other beings lived on Mars’ surface in the ancient past, why wouldn’t they do also build cities near water? It may be possible that this crater area was once filled with water when a civilization lived on the surface.
    It’s also interesting is that this landing site is located within reach of all these areas. But yet again NASA stayed away from landing a rover at Cydonia. Maybe they believe exploring pyramidal structures there would be too much for their own people to handle? Or perhaps they have been told to stay away form it.

  9. This can be a reason why Gale crater was chosen.

    Nasa has played it cautiously with previous Mars rovers, dropping them in flood plains and driving slowly to targets of interest. This time it’s different. If all goes well on Monday, Curiosity will land next to the scientific motherlode: a mountain that displays billions of years of Martian history.

    Aeolis Mons, known informally as Mount Sharp, is located inside the 154 kilometres-wide Gale Crater, which sits just south of the Martian equator. Each of its geological layers is a page in the story of the planet. To read them, Curiosity must land somewhere on a narrow strip of flatter ground between Aeolis Mons and the crater’s rim. This is where Sky Crane comes in.

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