Science Officer’s pre-landing report for Betelgeuse IV 02.09.2512
Type of planet
Rocky with some tectonic activity driven by residual core heat and radioactive decay of Potassium, Thorium and a little Uranium in the crust.
Water covers about 30% of the surface.
Age about 4 Billion years.
1.2% Earth normal
12% Oxygen, 86% Nitrogen,1% Carbon Dioxide, 1% noble gases
Approx 175% Earth normal
Comments and recommendations
This is a young planet with active tectonics and a high level of volcanic activity. The high gravity and relatively low oxygen level in the atmosphere means that any strenuous activity will be tiring. The low level of CO2 means that the surface is cool with little rain so the terrain will be mainly desert although a savannah type grassland will have developed in the equatorial regions.
The high background radiation means that evolution will be progressing quickly so an unusual flora and fauna should be expected to be encountered.
It is suggested that the landing party select a site near or on the equator and on the coast near a river delta. This will give water borne access to the interior and plentiful supplies of fresh water and marine fish before farming becomes established.
The life span of the colonists are likely to be short for the first few generations as they will encounter many cancers from the radiation and will suffer from arthritis at early ages because of the high gravity. It is expected that this will improve after about five generations as evolution catches up.
Contact with the first settlers will be difficult as they travelled before the new HiTL drive and so, although they have only been here for thirty years, they spent five hundred years on the voyage compared to our five so they may well have evolved into a different form of human being as evolution has had twenty five or so generations to make changes, driven by their high exposures to gamma radiation in space. As you know, we have had no contact with them so we must be prepared for a difficult first meeting.
Nigel Butinski – Science Officer.
First Officers Landing report for Betelgeuse IV 07.10.2512
I instructed the pilot to navigate the shuttle to the landing area selected by the Science Officer. I had a crew of four and carried twenty six colonists; ten couples and six children ranging in age from seven to sixteen.
We selected a dry, level area some two hundred metres from a foreshore that is rocky with sandy inlets. It is one degree south of the equator. The terrain is fairly flat with some low hills some three km inland. The vegetation is up to 30mm high and appears to be similar to Savannah type grassland on Earth.
We quickly unloaded the shuttle so that the pilot could return to the mother ship in orbit. We set up a defensive perimeter using rocks from the foreshore. We named our settlement Hubble town.
We spent the first two weeks cultivating an area outside the settlement and planting the seeds and plants that we had brought from Earth to see which would survive on this planet. We dug a supply canal from the river to give us enough water for domestic and agricultural use, we would have to use irrigation in this dry place. After doing all this work we decided to send out a group to the first settler’s camp we had seen about fifteen kilometres away from Hubble town to the North, across the river. I selected five of the strongest men and two of the crew as we did not know what to expect.
This the end of the First Officer’s report and nothing further has been heard from the contact group since they left Hubble town.
Report from Daniel Jones age fourteen 07.10.2513
I started writing this report a year after the contact group and the First Officer left to make contact with the first settlers so that, if we do not survive, others who come after will at least know what happened to us.
There were two of the original crew with us, five men, ten women and six children when the group left.
We worked hard farming the surviving crops, fishing and improving our living conditions. We did not go short of food as the fishing was good. About half of the Earth plants survived and thrived. We also found that we could find edible roots by identifying the surface vegetation. Life was pleasant although hard work. We worried that the contact group had not returned as we were now completely on our own. The ship had left orbit for the long return to Earth and the next resupply was at least ten years in the future.
After we had been here for six months, the adults started dying and now I am the oldest one alive. I and the five other children are all fit and healthy and show no symptoms of the cancers that we think killed the adults. We have all had to grow up really quickly as there is no one here to help us or tell us what we should do, we just have to work it out for ourselves. We have realised that we need to have children quickly to replace the adults so I am partnering Mary who is also fourteen and James thirteen is partnering Sophie who is twelve. We are happy together and we have hopes of a good future in spite of the bad things that have happened.
We have seen nothing of the original settlers and we have decided not to send a group out to meet them as we are afraid what could happen until we find out what happened to the original grou…
Daniel’s report finished here
First Officers Landing report for Betelgeuse IV 07.10.2523
We tracked the original landing spot and the settlement from the ships systems and by visual contact from orbit so the navigation to the surface was simple.
We landed cautiously and sent out a heavily armed search party. No signs of life were found. There was evidence of cultivation in some fields outside the settlement but there are no living crops.
We found an area that had ashes and after investigation in the area, we found some bones that were confirmed as human by our Science Tech. Close inspection showed cut marks on the bones which we took as signs of butchery.
We then returned to the mother ship.
I recommend that this planet is quarantined and no further settlement attempts are made for at least fifty years.
Richard Kefford joined the Royal Navy from school, following this with an engineering career. He studied geology and creative writing with the Open University from 2008 until he graduated with a BSc in July 2014.
Richard lives in Somerset, where he enjoys writing, wood turning, hill walking and practical geology.
He was recently among the ten prize winners of a writing competition called ‘Shine’ with Pan Macmillan. His winning entry is at:-
Photograph Courtesy of NASA via WikiSolSeed