The crew members felt no particular necessity to reply in confirmation as they gradually began to walk away from one another yet managing to remain within eyesight contact distance. An imminent task at hand involved testing and observing near-constant variants of temperature with particular emphasis during Uranus’s midnights, when atmospheric gases turned most dense. They made acute and minute notes of the effects of sunlight upon Uranus’s climates at hours well past midnight and refrained from donning oxygen masks for the initial few weeks.
“The next phase of our journey is of prime importance, because Forward Space Research Labs are involved almost totally!” They heard him speak from an undisclosed vantage point as he busied himself correlating their individual movements and activities. “I also suggest now that we move away from each other until our shapes resemble specks in the horizon.”
Equally complicated exercises continued every Uranus day, extending well into midnight, until they unanimously called for a halt to further gleanings of undiscovered Uranus soils and returned to the recreation chamber for light dinner one particular evening. Forward Space Research Labs, back upon Earth, okayed all computer observations and readings only after thorough manual scrutiny of data by select personnel manning those labs.
* * *
A month remained for return lift-off flight to Mars when the flight commander assumed an additional responsibility of counter checking transmission deck computers engaged for interplanetary star fields auto flight. He also decided to personally scrutinize all subsequent computer programmes, which assisted in the manual operations of the interplanetary rocket ship. The entire process consumed one Earth hour of his time each day, and he reveled in that relocation of duty: all flight data pertaining to the ship was correspondingly encrypted to his DMNA patterns, both primary and secondary. This ensured only that he was authorized to fly the ship or set into motion any complicated sequence determining interstellar computer-controlled auto-flight patterns. All ship computer radars data were thus loaded with every alternate flight pattern available within star walks of the Solar System!
On the 29th day leading to countdown they were positioned in a very wide circular formation outside of personal visibility range and maintained simple verbal transmission contact via individual collar transmitters. Since each amongst them conversed in common Earth interplanetary language, requirement of verbal converters were deemed unnecessary.
“I am at the base unit of Zone Parallel. This mountain appears to be a hill, sir. I am unable to apply my radar telescopes. No, just a moment please. I can see clouds now at what seems to be the upper limits of this hill; its peak. Perhaps the mountain extends upward, above the clouds!” Those words staccatoed into their ears simultaneously all of a sudden, in a brazen report of observation.
They had ventured out at mid-morning that particular day after a moderate breakfast, sure of a normal and routine observational day ahead and were therefore surprised when the interplanetary oceanographic scientist spoke rapidly into his collar speaker phone. Aware that Earth Stations were keenly following every verbal exchange between themselves, the members required no further impetus to resume Formation Five Outer Space implying a hurried scuttle towards the oceanographer’s location. Evidently he had stumbled upon the source of that six-months climatic change, or rather the beginning of a six-months schedule marking converse weather formation upon Uranus.
As the interplanetary meteorologist-scientist hurried towards Zone Parallel — an area demarcating a hill- and mountain range in close proximity to the great lake area, he began to ruminate upon his colleague’s interpretation of the land structure upon which they were beginning to converge from various directions.
“My findings therefore indicate that this portion of Uranus was initially a huge oceanic bed region, and we trudge upon what was once the ocean floor. I do not require to elaborate upon the fact that such a sandy formation — upon which our interplanetary rocket ship also rests — extends in its pure form for more than several miles underneath the topsoil. Beyond and beneath — in this case, below — the sandy soil formation extending several miles under a rather haphazard layer of rocks and boulders, other strata begin to form denoting Uranus’s inner soil structure. These rocks and boulders again encompass the planet in a semicircular formation and furthermore at least half of the planet is shaped such.”
Two months further into search time the crew phased out one particular day from amongst innumerable Earth calendar days, deciding to indulge in swimming, favoring the great lake of Uranus as a more likely place rather than the smaller lakes within the vicinity of their parked rocket ship. The air was warm; the climate yet not deviated from its usual six months pleasant phase and the waters remained far from chilly.
Uranus, placed at the farthest distance from the Sun and much nearer to Pluto, nevertheless received its share of subdued sunlight. However — vastly different from Pluto — this planet preferred to maintain its natural position in starlit shadows and witnessed only faded reflections of sunlight, carried to its surface levels by the presence of tiny moisture droplets present inside the atmosphere, practically within outer portions of the atmosphere encircling the planet. Thus billions of such unseen moisture droplets forever remaining suspended inside its external atmosphere ensured that Uranus was witness to faded sunlight at the Solar System’s outermost circle limits.
This eerie sort of mid-afternoon effect, however, seemed thoroughly acceptable to Earth’s Forward space research crew now actively enjoying an outdoor recreation.
“The specific gravity of the waters of Uranus is far greater than that of Earth waters. We have difficulty in submerging ourselves inside Uranian waters and require active support of underwater propellants in order to discover what lies beneath these waters. One must be pulled by external forces to underwater depths, and it is not possible to travel below water surfaces simply by swimming. Diving tactics do not yield positive results mainly because of the near-instant surfacing properties which humans are subject to!” This formed an initial part of Earth-relay messages that Earth stations received via Uranus primary manned research flight data transmitters.
“If left to ourselves, we do not float upon the water. Rather, we rise almost upwards and slightly above in natural conditions. I am floating with my back to these placid lake waters and can hardly feel the surface waves. It seems as if I have applied zero-gravity procedures without assistance of machines, because my body rests slightly above the water levels, perhaps by a few micro-centimeters in measurement. Well, almost!” That formed the initial portion of an interplanetary report, which the first humans upon Uranus stated whilst swimming in one of the smaller lakes several years ago.
After a hearty lunch while relaxing upon shore chairs, they trudged back to the stationary rocket ship, accepting plush interiors of the second deck recreation chamber as a temporary get-away from the welcome yet unrealistic scenery of Uranus. By now, they had gotten used to the variants of the natural airs.
It was then that a few amongst the crew decided to get through to the usually silent interplanetary oceanographer, and he readily complied to their request to delve further into what the actual planet might have been like once upon a time!
“Advanced computer readings are in process of sketching out proton- date readings, and these are accurate to the billionth of any given time era, even to the hour in question of a given month and day. I anticipate a final report from Earth stations to be relayed via Mars computer banks while our ship’s data reveal this fact in a positive light.
“The commencement stages of Project Uranus, perhaps the end of our first dozen flights upon Uranus, assigned me to Earth Forward Research Space Labs, priority One. Undoubtedly, all of you present herein are aware that different locations of this same priority laboratory exist at sea levels, high altitudes upon Earth and at yet higher altitudes crossing 25,000 feet and of course, below the sea level too. You also know that the largest surface station of priority one lab exists at 15,000 feet above sea level; and all of its sub-stations are thoroughly interconnected by approachable internal, module systems.
“You shall find solace in the perusing the fact that suspicion pertaining to existence of an oceanic type of climate upon Uranus dates back to the year 1600 C.E. of Earth time, when poets classified “Uranus Waters” as the sole remedy of astrological solace within unknown star fields. How exactly the populace of Earth then procured computerized evidence wherein Uranus’s properties were correctly discovered — nearly six and a half thousand years ago — is a factor upon which modern-day scientists refuse to dwell upon. That is primarily because we do not know how to draw conclusive evidence related to such a long gone era.
“As time passed and ages overlapped eras transgressing centuries, Uranus, situated at the outer fringes of our Solar System, maintained its undeterred path in orbital charts and not much importance was accorded to its properties.
“Even now, in 5631 C.E., our primary dozen direct and unmanned flights to Uranus brought in sketchy evidence of a prior existence of oceanic activity in Uranus’s present water spots, and also to the comparatively smaller great lake and the yet smaller lakes dotting its surface. Needless to state here that our telescopic computer radars have been actively photographing Uranus for the past thousand years, from every conceivable angle permissible within interplanetary star-walks formation.
“There is no record however, of any evidence leading to oceanic activity upon Uranus ever since our Earth ancestors commenced upon the formidable task of photographing this planet. Undoubtedly, the number of unmanned flights and unscheduled manned flights across Uranus’s atmosphere amounts in excess of trillions to this date. The all-important subject matter pertaining to settlement of humans upon Uranus began with the first dozen purposeful unmanned flights several years ago.”
The meteorologist excused himself towards a robot-waiter stationed behind a bar of sorts, verbally ordering Pluto cheese and Mars tomato sandwiches. He spoke into fixed computer consoles programmed into the robot-waiter that performed acts of a human cook-cum-barman and a few minutes later he was evidently enjoying the act of distributing imported space sandwiches to the other members. Taking a self-declared break, the second lady deep space crew member commenced distributing large glasses of chilled Earth pineapple juice, a rare treat indeed at the outer fringes of the Solar System. They waited with bated breath for a second while before the oceanographer began on a different note.
“Whilst upon Earth Forward Lab priority One, my primary directive from Earth Command included declaring sizeable portions of Uranus as geographically safe areas protected from adverse effects and impacts of its oceans. To this effect you may recall that I was amongst the first batch of outer space scientists who first stepped upon Uranus.” For the first time he looked directly at the flight commander, a man who seemed more of a myth rather than a person. It was rumored that men like him were responsible for solo excursions to the outer fringes of the Solar System and perhaps even into deep interstellar space!
Prominent people amongst their group were aware of the fact that Inter-Galactic voyages were also not ruled out for men of such caliber,.
“I remember I assisted you to stand upright upon Uranus’s soils the first time you stepped upon this planet,” the flight commander added, though his voice held impersonal tones while drawing reference to the gravitational differences between Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Uranus.
“However sir, I was constantly receiving total geographical computer structures of Uranus from Earth stations ever since we made that crucial decision to shift over to Uranus. I am made to understand that Plutonian citizens are advised to refrain from applying for translocation even on temporary grounds save for vacations. I am also made aware of the fact that this exercise is evident for the proximity of Pluto to Uranus!
“You sir, commander, are amongst several people upon Earth aware of the reason for my presence upon Uranus!
“At least that is my personal observation. When Earth Council asked me to report my findings directly to them instead of the Forward and Advanced Labs — that was prior to my last visit here — they also assured me of your unstinted support and close cooperation.”
“Is that the reason you assume I may be aware of your presence upon Uranus?”
“No. As a matter of fact, I know for sure that you are amongst several deep space personnel who have seconded my presence here upon Uranus.”
“Are You sure?”
“Well, please continue.” The flight commander walked up to the air control computer panel, reading computer-generated individual “lungs air-content” of the crew’s breathing rate vis-a-vis Uranus-atmospheric natural air intake. He manually adjusted the air conditioning inflow to seep in slightly larger amounts of oxygen-mixed air via the ship’s internal air conditioning vents, just about enough air to counter minutely dissipating oxygen levels in natural Uranus airs now present within the rocket space ship.
The crew members did not bother to turn around and observe his actions. They knew from previous flight experience that the flight commander would inevitably ensure latent breathing procedures. It was as if their lives depended upon his activities, and they were totally assured of his life saving activities. One required years and years of interplanetary experience to opt for outer-space travel in his company, and not every opting personnel was favored with a positive reply. For deep space travel, well, one was yet to understand the concept of the term relating to excursions beyond Solar System limits, let alone travel to those places where few Earth humans had left their marks.
For particular correlative activities requiring manual controls, Earth Command had issued verbal directives. “Allow manual functions to override total computer commands in relation to automatic breathing procedures.”
This command simply meant that the flight commander’s personal DMNA prints — both the primary and secondary prints — were subject to total and minute computer scrutiny immediately before the former entered manual corrections in breathing air-level patterns. Only he was authorized to alter such vital changes, and these directives issued by Earth Command Primary Council — the highest formation of members from within Earth Command hierarchy — were final.
* * *
“A very long time has passed since my first visit upon Uranus till now, the present times.
“I have been actively involved in detection of water movements upon the planet’s surface. Now, you may have noted presence of hundreds of larger-than- Earth rivers here and also the sight of one comparatively smaller version of an Earth ocean. This is accessible to human view from a thousand feet or higher observation points. We all have indulged in such sight-seeing activities on various and innumerable occasions. This geographical landscape is near-perfect for humankind’s advent to Uranus, on a settlement basis, too!
“However, that is surface matter. It took me and my colleagues two Earth years to classify Uranus as risk-free for Human settlement, safe from the rarities of seas and the oceans. The rivers and floods formed another matter, and therefore our space city is located upon a dry area of Uranus, at the farthest distance from its oceans.
“You may also have noted that several of the rivers flow directly through under and into the domed space city area. As a matter of fact, nearly five of the largest rivers form a criss-cross pattern across land area underneath the semi-circular globe protecting Uranus space city.
“You may not be aware herein that the rivers of Uranus tend to submerge below surface level, traveling underground at certain defined points of their journey. They intersect their watery individual paths deep below surface level and then gradually rise up again to surface level. These rivers again tend to flow towards the oceans. Such a pattern of watery activity is now accepted as quite natural and termed as ‘varied rivers pattern’.”
The oceanographer halted for a moment.
“Therefore Uranus is termed as safe?” The interplanetary space geologist, presently studying and scrutinizing space debris formations from close quarters, asked.
“Well, it was considered safe till the moment we discovered Zone Parallel and the formation of clouds at its so-called tip.” His conclusion was drawn from a mountain range reaching upwards to approximately 35,000 feet, inclining towards coordinates leading to the planet’s north pole and a viably distant factor favoring immediate human settlement.
It was then that the interplanetary meteorologist joined in: “You have got to include several primary factors while building a space city station upon an alien planet. You must file risk-free feasibility reports prior to building up such a massive space city, and these reports primarily originate from Earth Forward space research stations. These actually okay every report which personnel representing Forward and Advanced outer space field regions transmit and submit to Forward Space Research Labs. The latter organization receives data directly from World Council. Needless to mention, our primary governing body — Earth Command — assumes total responsibility for a safe world. After all, they are accountable to the various worlds existing now within the Solar System!
“Council members within Earth Command further delegate responsibilities related to excursions in outer space to Earth Council, functioning directly under World Council, and it is the former in correlation and with total knowledge of facts provided by the latter that is primarily responsible for all such matters of governance. This factor allows Earth Command and World Council members to devote time for other matters requiring their scrutiny. Therefore, Earth Council members issue advice and orders upon minute phases of development. This is how matters progress upon Earth Stations and every organizational infrastructure is invariably interconnected in the most intricate of patterns!”
The oceanographer took over. “After a certain level upwards in atmospherical progression, say at an approximate height indicating 35,000 feet or thereabouts, Uranus is subject to experiencing near continuous cloud formation. This pattern of clouds reaches upwards further till approximately two-thirds of the stipulated height, or roughly about 25,000 feet further, thereby totaling approximately sixty thousand feet in all.
“Now this near continuous pattern of cloudy formation happens to exist only at the poles of Uranus, the North and the South poles respectively...”
The third interplanetary lady scientist delegated from the Observatories of the Earth and obviously a prominent figure in interplanetary Observatory stations commented immediately thereafter: “We are aware that such clouds represent the higher altitudes of Uranus’s skies, more so at the North Pole. The opposite location at the South Pole contains lesser amounts of a cloudy build-up. We may therefore conclude that if there were to be a cloudburst resulting in unprecedented monsoon like climatic situations including continuous rainfall...”
To be concluded...
Copyright © 2003 by Deep Bora