by Helen E. Davis

A few weekends back, I went to a Science Fiction convention and attended a science panel on the exploration of Mars. We have, over the last three decades, assaulted the Red Planet with a variety of exploration crafts. Numerous satellites have bombarded it sonar, mapping its mountains and valleys. Viking went to the surface and gathered samples, which it analyzed. The Pathfinders crawled over the surface and took a closer look at the rockets. And at this moment two Mars Rovers are venturing out on epic journeys to look where no robot has looked before.

In the near future, within the next ten years, several more missions are planned. There will be bigger rovers, and airplanes, and even a nuclear powered rover the size of a small car. And that's just what America is sending. Even more missions have been sent from other Space Exploring countries.

But what happens to all these satellites and rovers and airplanes and robots when their job is done? They don't just go poof and disappear. They fall to the ground, grind to a stop, slump useless and discarded on the surface of the Red Planet. In short, they become a target for the salvage hunters of Mars, who refashion the electronics and robotic parts into something they can use. Tools, or jewelry, or even idols to the mysterious gods who regularly gift them with strange but wonderful gifts.

One even wonders if the missions which mysteriously failed where merely caught and appreciated by the Martians before they could be deployed.

Can this be the truth? We'll know for certain if we ever cut the funding for the Mars Explorations and cease to send these packages their way. One fine summer's day we'll look into our telescopes, and instead of seeing the familiar canals of Mars we find that the Martians have built, in a scale a hundred times larger than life so that it can be seen by all the gods, a mock Spaceport lined by huge sculptures of all the exploration craft we've gifted to the Red Planet!

Cpoywrite 2004 Helen E. Davis

Back to the main party!