THE JOVIAN MOON TOUR
Transcript of a Transmission Fragment From Europa
(1) Europan Encounter
"Well..." (cough) .... "here I am folks, your intrepid reporter, weak but cheery after a further 3 months in the ice-box and ready to meet the most awesome sight in our Solar System, apart from our Sun, of course. As you no doubt remember from my previous transmission during the crossing of the Astroid Belt, I was not looking forward to another stint in the tubs but at least I'm not feeling any more wobbly and sick to the stomach than I did after the first stretch from Earth. Just more of the same, and it helps to be forwarned.
I was roused about six hours ago and have been re-couperating in the recovery bay... (echoing footsteps) now I'm making my way through this narrow passage-way between the hiber-tubs. Excuse my whispering, my throat is still very scratchy but it is also very quiet, cold and quite dark in here as many of the crew are still in hibernation. To the left of me are the four relief Science Crew for the Europa Ice Station. They will be the next to be roused, I believe. And on the right here are the three flight crew who will pilot the Supply Ship Hector back to Earth after her visit to mighty Juipitor is at an end. As you will remember, the Hector was pulled from the 'Mars Two' supply run after the tragic loss of the Carolyn P.
It seems I have been granted the honour of being allowed to see and report our approach to Europa and I can tell you, if my insides weren't so mashed up, I would be feeling pretty darn elated, I'm sure."
"Excuse me a moment....there is something laying in the middle of the passage-way here and I can't quite make out what it is in the darkness." (heavy breathing and crackling) "Yes...I see now...it's just some equipment....damn silly place to leave this stuff...oh!...It's mine!"
I'm now slowly making my way through the crew's living quarters. The Hector has the new artifical gravity installed which is about 1/3 that of Earth but it takes a bit of getting used to moving about in it at first. I feel like I'm trying to walk about under water. It's a hell of an improvement on the old supply ships, I'm told, which needed to rotate to provide gravity. I feel even more quesy just thinking about that. The ship also has the next generation of Quantum Computers on board, one of which will be accompaning the Science Crew down to the surface along with new drilling equipment and a more advanced submersable. The living quarters here are small but surprisingly comfortable, as they would need to be considering the length of time the shift crew spend here. The walls have delightful Hi Res electronic murals of Earth; forests, mountains and beaches, which change regulary. During my first rousal at the Astroids I found myself gazing at these murals for extraudinary long periods of time. Apparently that is not at all unusual.
Right, now I'm approaching the flight deck. Jack Davidson, the Number One on Able shift, is waiting here to help me up the ladder with my equipment."
"Hi, Jack. Good to see you again."
"Hello there, Chris. Here, let me take some of that stuff for you. How are you feeling?"
"Like someone has been at my innards with a cake mixer, Jack"
(A deep chuckle)
"Well, that sounds about normal, but we had better hurry or you will miss the big event"
"Ok, Jack, this is very exciting.......do you have to put your hands there?! OK, if you must."
"We are now on the flight deck, where the Pilot and Commander are preparing for our landfall with Europa. I can't quite make out what is on the view screen, it seems very dark."
"Take a seat here, Chris, and please buckle up as we will be making some minor course adjustments soon."
"Thanks, will do, Jack. Tell me, why can't I see anything out there?"
"We are approaching Europa from the night side which means we have it between us and Jupitor at the moment. I promise you there will be something much more interesting to see very soon."
"That's great, thanks again, Jack. I had better let you get back to your flight station."
"Sorry about that, folks, just getting myself sorted here. Right, now I'm set. Well at the moment all I can see is a very large dark area in the right hand side of the view screens and a small field of bright stars to the left of the screen. The blackness of that starless area is staggering. Sort of reminds me of the dark side of the moon I guess."
"Oh my goodness!" (Another gasp.) "Shit! And to think they picked me for my command of the language!" (a chuckle) "The most extraudinary thing has just happened. As I was watching the daylight line, below on Europa's surface, coming towards us, I realised that Jupitor had suddenly come into view! Wow! This is extraudinary! Jupiter is rising steadily and becoming larger as I speak. We are continueing to fly over Europa and I can see the glitter of the ice below and make out the pattern of cracks that cover this most unusual moon."
"But Jupiter looks absolutely enourmous! I can't quite seem to believe what my eyes are seeing! It's just incredibly beautiful! The color is sort of rusty reds, pinks and oranges and the different bands are quite obvious even from this distance. I think I can see the edge of the Giant Red Spot just disappearing over the horizon."
"I've been told that from the surface of Europa, Jupitor looks about 23 times larger than our moon looks from the Earth. That probably doesn't sound all that exciting but seeing Jupiter here, now, hanging in the heavons like that, so close, so huge, so breath-taking! Wow, it's just an amazingly awesome sight!"
"Ooops! Commander Janet Fells has just signalled me to keep the noise down so that pilot, Lester Thompson, can concentrate on our approch. It's hard not to get more than a little carried away with this view, folks, but I will have to go into whisper mode excitement from this point on."
"We are now passing over the daylight side of Europa. The icy surface below is rather gray and a touch bland compared to Jupiter's extravagence. The surface appears to be a jumbled patch work made up of a mirid of bluish cracks, darker bands, broken up iceberg shapes and icecliffs. We have just passed over the first real sign of color on this moon, the Europa Ice Station complex, where the Science Crew work and live. Now the nightline is coming up fast ahead of us and the incredible bulk of Jupiter is sliding off to the left, out of view. Jack has just told me things could be getting a little hectic so I will finish this report for now. This is your, absolutely stunned breathless, reporter, Chris Drayton, signing off until we are down on the ice of Europa .....wish me luck, folks."