Ice sounds

Here’s the soundtrack I play in my office lately while I write. I don’t know how a collapsing glacier on Mars would sound to those stuck within, but I imagine it wouldn’t be too far from this.

The lights have gone out. The tunnels have broken and shifted around you. And these sounds constantly rumble and zing up through your feet and the thin atmosphere outside your helmet. Do you have enough air to find your way out?

My gosh, this book might be too scary for kids!


Martian dungeon

How do you write a Martian dungeon crawl? First, you have to make a model dungeon (abandoned ice mine), so you can keep track of where everybody’s at.

Martian glaciers

Of relevance to my next book, Water, is the question of subglacial water.

Here’s reporting on a recent study that modeled glacial movement on Mars. It has been assumed that most glaciers on Mars have been frozen to their beds for quite some time. The question has been, did they ever move or have they always been stuck? This study suggests that they may have been able to move in the past, though more slowly than glaciers on Earth.

It’s an interesting piece, but doesn’t help my case. For Water, I need a significant reservoir of subglacial water in the present. This is where I’m going to have to exercise some creative license and claim that remnants of ancient vulcanism have kept my fictional ice sheet wet at the bottom. At some point in any work of science fiction, one must lean into the fiction part. This is where that happens for Water.

Artemis I, take two

NASA will take another stab at getting Artemis one off the pad this Saturday.

From the article: “It was not immediately clear from Tuesday’s news conference what the implications of launching with a warmer-than-normal main engine would be. From a physics standpoint, igniting super-chilled propellants in a warmer-than-anticipated engine would likely severely damage the RS-25 engine’s turbopump, at a minimum. Presumably, therefore, NASA would not launch the SLS rocket without high confidence in its flight rationale.”

So, we’ll see…

More on SLS

Here’s an interesting interview with Lori Garver, Deputy Administrator of NASA during early SLS development.
From the interview:
“I think a test flight is just that, it’s a test flight. This happy talk of it being completed—just look at the language, the celebration, NASA’s planning, and so forth for the launch. There is not another test flight planned if this doesn’t go perfectly. So then what? You’re going to put people on one in two years if the first one didn’t go well? I just have never heard anyone talk about that plan.”
This is exactly what I’ve been wondering about. SpaceX moves forward by crashing lots of rockets. I know NASA works differently, but surely you have to plan for failure in your test schedule.

The sound of a black hole?

Well, sort of. Sound is the movement of pressure waves through a medium that ultimately cause an auditory impression in a listener. A black hole in the Perseus cluster generates pressure waves in the cloud of hot gasses surrounding it. The frequency of these pressure waves is far below the range of what humans perceive as sound. But, when they are shifted quadrillions of times higher in frequency, this is what results.

It’s weird. It’s cool. If I ever write a horror story for Generation Mars, this will be playing in the background. But to call it the “sound” of a black hole is a stretch.

Artemis 1

NASA’s SLS rocket will launch for the first time this Monday (8/29). Here’s a brief history of SLS and why it elicits strong opinions in the space community.
From the article:
“Those who have focused on the “space race” this year between SLS and Starship have missed the point. The real question is not which of the two super heavy-lift rockets launches first. Rather, it’s “how many Starships will launch between the first and second flights of the SLS rocket?””
Opinions aside, we can all agree that a launch of the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V is a big deal.