chapitre 0001

road trip to the unknown

Credits: DJ Omnimaga

This is the story of two guys sitting more or less comfortably in their spaceship seats that still smells like new. Two astronauts that did not knew what they were getting into, but they got on board. It looks like their road trip from space is coming to an end as their destination appears bigger and bigger in front of them.

Zarmina
Credits: Lynette Cook/NASA

- "Here Gliese 581 g, right in front", exclaims one of them.
- "Wow. It's beautiful", replied the other, open-mouthed in front of the ship's windshield.
- "Isn't it? Zarmina, as we call it on Earth. Our destination. It's still incredible that humanity has been able to reach a planet as far away. We would never have been able without the scientific advancements of the past few years."
- "That is true. It's crazy, when you think about it."

The details on this planet are clearer than any astronomer could have seen from Earth. Discovered in 2010 by a certain Steve Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics in California (who by the way named it after his wife, Zarmina), and confused later with sunspots, it took several years before the existence of this planet was confirmed, and even there we were not too sure when the ship departed. But, if it exists, it has always been considered one of the first destinations outside our solar system where we could find life.

The planet in question is somewhat larger than the Earth, but its sun, a red dwarf, is definitely smaller. Its planets compensate with a nearer and faster orbit, so that Zarmina always shows the same face to its sun, like our Moon to our planet, but it always remains at a perfect distance, a little on the cold but not too much. So Zarmina shows a beautiful gradient from blue closer to the sun to a snow white on the other side. A dream view and perfect conditions to play hockey. Or to do some research or something like that.

- "What was that?" exclaims one of the two astronauts.

A metallic thud is heard and several lights begin to flash on the console.

- "No idea," replies his colleague. "Surely something that fell. If not, there's that Check Engine light that came on, is that normal?"
- "It must. I think the ship is due for a little visit to the garage."
- "Definitely more than a visit to the garage, for me..."

The noise starts again. Definitely a problem in the ship, a component probably broke. The ship is new, though, although we've never been so far in space, it probably did not hold up. It's getting more and more fishy.

- "Oh no," said the pilot.

The planet is getting closer and closer. More pieces fall, as if one had removed the bottom block in a game of Jenga.

- "Huh?" exclaims his friend.
- "I'm losing control ..."
- "Oh no."

The two colleagues fall unconscious.