NASA’s and ESA’s satellites orbit the planets Mars and Venus. The probes we have sent to planets of our solar system cost billions of dollars and often the question arises: "Isn’t it better to spend all this money to improve living conditions here and all over the world.
Some say, the vanity-bag of space-stations around earth and all the non human relays are worthless things that they only serve as a passion for glory for some engineers and scientists and that they do not serve the interests of the majority.
I would argue that the steam engine, the airplane, the motor car, and many other products are human constructions that perhaps, at the timeof their development, seemed to be an exercise in frivolty. I would point to James Watt, The Wrights, Benz and their contemporaries who didn’t realise that their inventions would once change the world.
Fact is, there are satellites orbiting planets. Thus, we should make acquainted young people with the results of this expensive enterprise. It is because of this that I wrote some short stories as Samantha on planet Venus, or Samantha on planet Mercury. Here is an example of
Samantha on Planet Mars
© Copyright by Fritz Reichert
“I hate these girls!” Samantha thought “They are teasing me for not using the make-up they use. Of course I return their bad reputation, telling them they always use too much lipstick. And then they say boys like lips that shine with glitter. These beasts, they then point out maliciously that guys will not look at me because my blush can hardly be seen.”
Samantha got mad. Though it was late in the evening, her excitement didn’t decrease as there was no one to help her, even not her mom.
“Mom used to say I shouldn’t care about those stupid girls. Mom usually gives me decent advices,” Samantha grumbled. “But she never tells me what to say when those girls talk about expensive and brand new clothes they got and that the rags I wear are completely out of style.”
Samantha heard her Johnny mewing.
“Come her, my Johnny!” Very fast her mood changed when she talked to her beloved cat. Her soft lure made Johnny jump on her lap. Caressing Johnny’s smooth coat made her less stressed for a moment, but then she remembered her school-mate Miranda.
“This morning ugly Miranda asked me if she could copy my homework Then, after she copied all of it she went to our teacher and acted like she did it all on her own. Of course she got an “A” on it. Never had I gone to my teacher to show my homework if I am not asked to do so. Miranda is a bitch!”
Lying on her lap Johnny started purring.
“You have a great time, little Johnny. Nobody teases you, right?” After a short while she continued: “Well, there is our neighbor’s dog. But you are fast and you have pointed claws and you can even climb a tree. Ha, and this stupid dog stays on the ground and can’t do anything but bark at you.”
Johnny purred as in agreement to Samantha’s thoughts.
Samantha yawned. Although being tired, she loved to continue reading in one of her favorite books, in H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, in which beings from planet Mars invaded Earth.
After a few pages you could tell she was full asleep by hearing her steady breath.
Suddenly there was a voice in Samantha’s room. It was the rough voice of a man. “And why do you put up with these silly girls?” he asked. Samantha rose in terror from her bed. “Who the hell are you? How did you get into my room?” she asked.
“Hey, just look at me,” the man said.
In the dim light that fell through the window of her room Samantha recognized a large man in armor. One hand was at the hilt of a sword which was loosely fixed at the belt of this curious person.
Although she was frightened, Samantha couldn’t help but giggle at this odd figure. Suddenly the man changed his posture. He stood stiff like a soldier on attention saying, “I am Mars, the God of War, young lady. And I can tell you how to fight those girls who are teasing you.”
Johnny jumped from Samantha’s bed and put up his back as if being ready to attack the intruder.
“You see, Samantha, your cat knows how to defend himself, or, what’s even better, to attack. He has smelled the scent of my wolves and look, Samantha, how aggressive he behaves. Stop, Johnny!” Mars yelled, clanking his armor, “or I smash you like a fly”.
“Leave my cat in peace or you really will get trouble,” Samantha shouted.
“Now I take a real amusement in you, young lady”, Mars said. “You would even fight the God of War to defend this animal. But the truth is it only stays with you because you feed it. This cat would betray you if it could find a better place to stay.”
Samantha got furious. “Don’t call me young lady”, she said. “I am a twelve. And don’t insult my cat! Jonny is more loyal than any person I know. And what the hell are you doing in my room? Get lost right now!”
“Well, I get more and more pleasure in you when I see your eyes gleaming with fury. But let me tell you, why I’m here. While reading that book War of the Worlds you wanted to know if little green and slimy beings would exist on my planet. And you also were eager to learn if these horrible beings are able to conquer Earth and kill all humans.”
“You’re right,” Samantha agreed. “Can you answer that question?”
“Sure I can,” Mars answered. “there are no beings on this planet to invade Earth. I know it for sure. This planet was assigned to me to live on and I have never seen any such beings.”
"Then, what are you doing here on Earth? Samantha asked.
“Well, I wage a war here and another one there”, Mars said. “I make students fight at school, I teach them how to be mean, and how to torture each other. In families I make parents shout at each other and betray one another. I make sure tears are running, sometimes even blood. Oh, I like this very much! But unfortunately I have to leave Earth for a short while.”
“I hope you stay away forever! I hate you,” Samantha said.
Mars became quite mad. “I have to go, I have to go,” he murmured. But Samantha caught his words.
“How can a god be forced to do something?” she asked
“Well, gods have the same problems as parents with their children. My son Eros has asked me to see him on my planet. He’s such a lovely person and when he asks me for something I cannot say No”.
“No wonder why this god has an even more hateful son”, Samantha thought. “Eros stands for erotic and all this stuff. Maybe Miranda would like to become seduced by Eros, but I do not”.
“Actually everyone loves my son Eros”, Mars continued. “But he is too curious. In this respect he is even worse than his mother, the beautiful goddess Venus. Continuously he used to ask questions. I just have to prevent him from doing so, because I have to return to Earth soon. There are still great countries that could wage wars, and I have to help them to do so.”
“He’s got to stay away from Earth”, Samantha had an idea about how she could make this god stay away from Earth longer than he proposed to do so.
She said: “I think you are lying, you’re telling me that there are no beings on your planet ready to invade Earth. You are the god who loves destruction, who likes to kill, who feels happy when children cry when their dads are being killed in action. I rather believe”, Samantha said, “you rush to your planet Mars to make these green Martian beings start to plan a war against all humans. I think you’re a liar!”
“You have to take my word for it”, Mars said rather annoyed.
“I don’t trust what you say, Mr. God. I have to find out myself if there are living beings on your planet or not.”
“You cannot fly with me”, Mars said.
“Well, don’t worry.” Samantha pretended not to be interested in the question about life on planet Mars. “Anyway”, she said, “soon we wont need gods to tell us the secrets of our neighboring planet. We will send more and more spacecrafts to planet Mars, and in 2018 we will send a crew to Mars. Maybe I’ll be a crew member. Then you’ll be rag doll of the whole mankind.”
“Hey, young lady, oh, I mean Samantha. How comes that you are so mad? O. K. I’ll give you a lift to my planet to stop your kicking about. Just touch my armor and off we go.”
Doing so Samantha felt a draft. She closed her eyes. When she opened them again she found herself with the god Mars on a wide plane. She saw the small disk of our sun on a rather black sky. She felt light like a feather and she knew, she had entered planet Mars.
“Hey, father, I’m happy to see you,” she heard a voice. Now she could see an middle-sized handsome young man who had spoken. “Who is with you?” he asked, looking in admiration at pretty Samantha.
“Her name is Samantha,” Mars said. He was quite disappointed at not receiving a warm hug from his son. Instead Eros paid interest solely to Samantha. “She wants to look around here,” he answered.
“Young lady, don’t ask my father to be your guide. It will be my pleasure to show you around.”
“I’m not a lady, Mr. Flatterer. My name is Samantha and I’m twelve years old. And I hate yourcompliments, sir.”
“I like this girl even better,” Mars murmured and addressing his son he said: “Ha! Flatterer she called you. And she is damned right. And you, my son, you have to digest this pregnant word,” Mars laughed about Samantha’s censuring his son. But his malicious joy lasted only a short moment as Samantha continued:
“But comparing you with that old-fashioned battle-ship that calls him your father, I must say I’d like it much better if you showed me around. First I want to know, where are these channels that were built by the Martians and where are these dangerous beings that want to invade our Earth?”
With a triumphant look at his father Eros said: “There are no channels, my …, I mean, Samantha. In 1888 an Italian astronomer saw lines on this planet with his telescope. The public took these lines for channels and consequently it was thought that intelligent beings must live here who had built these channels. But I assure you, there are no channels and no intelligent beings here but us.”
“You must know, Samantha,” Mars interrupted his son’s flow of speech, “he is fond of people with imagination. He loves them the more the unreal their fancies are.”
“Oh, shut up, father. You better care for your own business. For example, what do you think if ever more spaceships from Earth are investigating your planet? They are carrying ever better instruments to examine your planet.”
“Well, good question, son. Among 42 expeditions from Earth I made 24 of them fail. But recently they try in ever shorter periods to explore my planet.”
“I love these people,” Eros said. “They spend money and resources. Actually they will find nothing here which has any worth to them.”
“I know, what they want,” Mars said. “People want to build a colony under a huge dome of glass here one day. But this means war with me. I’ll exterminate all intruders, root and branch. I just can’t wait for this fight.”
“I love people, who are trying to do something again and again even if they do not succeed. I love people, who love experiments, who are active, and who don’t miss their lives by sleeping for ever.”
“Actually I do not care what you like or dislike, Mr. Eros”, Samantha ended the dialog of the gods. “I came to learn something about this planet.”
“O. K.” Eros said. “May I show you around, dear Samantha?”
“Hell, I thought you were not slow in understanding. I’m not your dear ‘whatsoever’!” Samantha was quite mad at the way Eros was approaching her. “Just tell me what’s worth to be seen here!”
“To be honest, nothing is worth your attention,” he answered and swallowed, “except you dear and lovely girl.”
“By Jove,” Mars shouted, “don’t offend my planet!”
“He’s right,” Samantha said. “As much I’ve seen so far, it looks like a wide and waste desert. Red and rusty it appears to me like its owner.”
Copyright by Mars Rover 2008-05-26
“You impertinent rat,” Mars yelled.
“She is right,” Eros supported her. “Look, your planet needs almost two earth-years to orbit the sun. In fact, it’s a pussyfooter.”
“True;” Mars defended his planet, “but that means, all seasons last almost double as long as on Earth.”
“Do you call this an advantage,” Samantha asked, “if in springtime storms of red dust are raging across this desert land? There is no green grass, no green bush; even no green beings can be seen.”
“How comes you know that?” Mars felt annoyed.
“Of course from our satellites,” Samantha replied. “They orbit this planet and sent pictures from these devastating tempests.”
“Then your spy satellites also found out that my planet harbors the largest volcano of the whole planetary system, Mars said. “No other planet has a volcano as high as my Olympus Mons. You should also know that it is named after the Olympus Mount in Greece where all the gods of ancient Greece dwell.”
“True,” Samantha replied, “our satellites measured a height of almost 75,000 foot. But …”
“That means,” Mars interrupted her, “it is higher than your Mount Everest which measures just poor 28,000 foot.”
“But,” Samantha continued, “the Olympus Mons you are praising is no volcano any more! In fact, our satellites haven’t seen a single volcano on this waste planet. And do you know why no volcanoes exist here any more?”
“But there were times when my volcanoes spew lava which still covers wide regions. But I don’t care why they do no longer work.”
Copyright by NASA PD Olympus Mons
“Father, I want to know why your volcanoes don’t spread lava any more. How comes that you know that, Samantha?”
“Because our satellites look at any corner of this planet and because our scientists have ideas to combine these facts and build up a good theory. It seems to me, Mr. Mars, you are a god immovable as your iron armor and unable to pick our brains.”
“By Jove! This brat is unable to fight her class-mates and here she is offending me. By …”
“Cool off, father!” Eros cut in. “Samantha, if you know it, you got to tell us.”
“O. K.” Samantha said. “Our satellites measured a very thin crust of this small planet.”
Mars foamed with rage. “Again she is offending me, son, calling Mars a small planet.”
“But it’s a fact, that your planet is next to Mercury the smallest one in our solar system,” Samantha insisted. “See, below its solid crust there is a coat of molten minerals! But there are no floating plates as we have them on Earth.”
“So what?!” Mars shouted. “You’re talking about crust and plates, all this scientific stuff which I despise. I don’t get what you are talking about.”
“Let me tell you,” Samantha said. “In winter ice-floes might swim on the water of rivers. When they meet they push against each other and tower up.”
“Hey, father,” Eros got the idea. “If there are no plates on your planet swimming on liquid stones, no crushing of plates can occur. Consequently, there are no chains of mountains on your planet.”
“Correct, Mr. Eros. You understood me but not your dad.”
“He used to be slow in study but fast in struggle.”
“Mr. Mars, look you! If you push a table-cloth wrinkles can be seen. Similarly wrinkles appear in the crust, if plates collide. Sometimes clefts deep into the molten coat could come to pass. From the depth liquid lava can pour out of openings. As there are no plates on planet Mars, no volcanoes can exist. But …”
“Wrong! You are wrong, kid! The northern hemisphere of my planet is covered with lava, which proves that volcanoes can exist here.” Mars looked triumphantly at Samantha and at his son Eros.
“Oh, why don’t you allow me finish speaking,” Samantha said. “Due to remarkable differences in temperature between summer and winter tensions could arise in the crust, but they cannot discharge. Only if something falls on the tense crust …”
Eros was so fascinated by Samantha’s explanation that he cut in. “Yeah, then the tensions can discharge and a great amount of lava could pour over the surface. Father, did you get it? Oh no, I see from your face that you didn’t understand a word.”
“Let me try to explain,” Samantha pleaded. “Mr. Mars, whenever a meteor crushed on your planet the tensions in the crust could discharge.”
“Your satellites couldn’t see that, Samantha. I guess you are cheating,” Mars said.
“Our satellites discovered clefts thousands of miles long. It looks as if the planet got stabbed. We are sure that these rents prove the discharge of tensions within the crust.”
Eros nodded at the explanation of these numerous clefts as the Mariner Valley he had seen already. He wanted to ask Samantha about the fact that volcanoes did exist on Mars once. Samantha continued in her explanation:
“It also could happen that the impact of a meteor hit a region without any tensions in the crust. The power of the impact could reach the molten material in the coat and fill the hollow. This explains the wide plains filled with solidified lava.”
“I can follow your words,” Eros said, “but I wanted to know why volcanoes did exist on my father’s planet.”
“I talked about impacts of meteors on planet Mars. The power of an impact could be so great, that the crust on the opposite side of the impact rose and was lifted. Sometimes the elevation could have been so great that the liquid of the interior could rise up to the top of the elevation. Thus volcanoes came in existence“.
Mars had listened to Samantha’s story about the texture of his planet. Though he didn’t understand it he became proud that people found so much interest in his planet.
“Didn’t you say nothing is worth here to Samantha’s attention?” he asked his son. “And now you learn about wonderful devastations that had happened here. Imagine this gorgeous scenery of an asteroid’s impact: A volcano comes in existence on the other side of my planet; or a cleft opens as if a huge machete had hit the planet to make a wound gaping wide; or the depression fills with magma. Too bad, that this happened before my time.”
Copxright by ESA Kasei Valle 205-02-26
“You could not have survived an impact like this, Mr. Mars. Or do you think you could have defended this planet against an approaching asteroid with your odd sword? The meteor would have smashed you.”
“Well, I start thinking I shouldn’t have encouraged you to defend yourself. You’re attacking me instead of fighting your school-mates that did tease you.”
Eros didn’t pay too much attention to the controversy between Samantha and his father. But now he asked Samantha:
“Why do people spend so much money on exploring other planets? Why don’t you spend this money on home-made problems or just enjoy your lives?”
It took some time until Samantha replied: “My teacher said that the inner planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, came all into being more or less simultaneously about 4.5 billion years ago. The conditions of development were about the same for all four planets. But, Venus is hot like hell. And planet Mars, please don’t get upset, Mr. God, planet Mars is a desert of rubble.”
Before Samantha could continue what her teacher had taught her, Mars hit his iron armor with his sword and said. “I’ll challenge this teacher to have a fight with me, or I’ll …“But his son harshly cut in: “No, father, you will not do so. People on planet Earth try to learn how to avoid that their planet becomes as hot as Venus and as icy as your planet.”
Turning to Samantha he asked what people have already discovered to escape the fates of Venus and Mars.
“The atmosphere of Venus consists of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas” she replied. “We learn that we have to avoid a rise of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.”
Mars couldn’t help to say. “You see, son, in my atmosphere there is hardly any carbon dioxide. Here temperature cannot rise as on Venus.”
“That’s no good either, Mr. Mars, “Samantha said. “The carbon dioxide is not in your atmosphere but it is hidden in compounds within your planet. As there are no volcanoes it cannot escape into the atmosphere and catch the sunrays to warm up your planet. That’s why it is so unpleasantly cold here. Our costly observations will teach us how to avoid becoming Venus-like or Mars-like.”
Quite happy Mars said. “I knew you need my planet!”
“Certainly,” Samantha said. We want to find out how much water is hidden beneath the surface. Our satellites discovered water at the poles and our Mars-Express measured water below the surface even up to your equator.”
“And why is this fact so interesting to you that you spend money for these satellites?” Eros demanded to know. “Son, that’s evident,” Mars answered though Eros had asked Samantha. “See,” he said, “they want to colonize my planet. As each person needs at least one gallon of water each day it would be too expensive to carry so much water from Earth to Mars. That’s why they want to steal my water.”
“Father, you never have cared about the water on your planet,” Eros said. “Be honest, you are just looking for a reason to struggle.”
“It’s true, to carry water from Earth to Mars is really expensive,” Samantha said. “But there is still another reason. We are eager to learn if ever forms of life had developed in the water here on Mars.”
“You are a curious breed, you humans.” Mars shook his head in disapproval. “Why should anyone be interested if living beings ever have housed on my planet?” he asked. “Will you receive more power to fight? No. Will you become richer? No. Will you become fatter? No. So, why are you interested in this question?”
“For us it is important to learn if the rise of living beings on Earth is a unique process or if life has developed on other planets as well. If there is or if there has been life on Mars, Earth is only special because intelligent form of life, humans, could have developed on it.”
“And of course we, the gods, came in existence!” Mars added. “But what the hell am I chattering with you all the time?” His anger rose. “You talk about my crust and the liquid interior of my planet or if forms of life have ever existed here. You were wasting my precious time. I have return to Earth and do my important business over there.”
“I’m happy that you stayed away from Earth so long,” Samantha said. “At least for some tome people could have lived in peace”.
Mars got mad. “Girl, you forget that the fight is the father of everything. If people do not argue they would rest and wouldn’t strive to reach the stars.”
“Father, this is my conception, not yours. Your essence is violence, destruction, and recklessness “.
“O. K. my son. If you believe not to regard your father’s opinion, it’s fine with me. But I have to rush to Earth, now and immediately. This brat of a girl may stay here until a spaceship will arrive in 2018 to pick her up. She is so mean, son. You witnessed how she humbled my pride. By Jove, I have to rush back to Earth.”
“Don’t be afraid, Samantha. I love people who search for knowledge. You are a receptive mind. I am a god to help people to gain knowledge and to learn about the great ideas of the universe. Now I will softly return you to your room on Earth.”