“Not long now, Sam. You folks should be passing over Nicholson’s rim now.”
“Yes, sir! The central mountain is right up in front of us,” I said.
“I think I can make out Schiaparelli!”
Things happened in pretty short order after that. Ranger began
to slow down and lose altitude fast. I could feel the wings changing shape, as well as the small rocket engines of the reaction control system firing intermittently to keep us stable. We seemed to be getting dangerously close to the ground when the nose came up, several control jets fired, Ranger felt like she went into what in aircraft flight terms would be called a stall; then settled onto her belly, at rest.
My phone rang, taking me by surprise: “Hello?”
“Hey, Augie! You guys sounded like the crack of doom when you came over. Now my chickens won’t lay for a week.”
“Sorry, Sy. So when did you start keeping chickens? I thought ya’ll were vegans, like the rest of us.”
“Just a figure of speech you literal minded Texan; but you really did rattle the walls. It wasn’t a total surprise though. RT sent us a memo that you were coming over this morning.” Saiyed, his parents and little brother lived at an Atmosphere Project station east of Eumenides Dorsum.
Excerpts from Chapter II: The Long Jump
Photos from Mars Express