I was considering what it would be like to live on a ice moon. Far different from Mars i would assume. There would be no lava tubes, only constantly moving ice that a base would always have to adjust to. What kind of design would accommodate that? A floating base? Perhaps one with a nuclear warmth that keeps the exterior heated as it slowly drifts and melts it way through the ice. Every now and then, we extend the legs and slowly push the base back to the surface. It is important to maintain a certain depth in the ice way out here however. Too deep and the moon will eat us, too shallow and the radiation will boil us alive.
EUROPA – CHAPTER ONE
You also have to consider Europa is a ‘Shepard’ moon. What does that mean? It means that it orbits the giant planet and takes hits from giant rocks due to its massive gravity that sucks in rocks and heats this moon through tidal heating. This brings me back to the situation at hand.
This outpost, similar to the one on Enceladus, is like a submarine. You see, there is a fine line between going too deep and being eaten by the the ice, yet hovering in that sweet spot where we are protected from random impacts.
This is where the reactor and my job is all important.
My name doesn’t matter, I’m just a tech you never see. You never realize I balance that entire floating base. Did you realize once you land and take that elevator all you see is corporate beauty? Low gravity and all…what they don’t tell you is that you are 1500 meters under the ice pack. That shake you feel once a day? That’s me. Adjusting the entire flexible platform, extending the legs and retracting and slowing melting our way back up as the ice slowly encapsulates us. But hell yea, I love this job. Why? you ask.. It’s thankless and noone will know who does it..
But that is my job…to be unseen. Noone cares how it works, just as long as everyone is all smiles. The base is not smashed to bits and you did not sink into the broiling depths of this moon. Its a thankless job but somehow I do seem to take pride in it.
I run the reactor, but I can not say I do it all alone. Oh no, credit must be given where it is due. You see, there are five of us. We are a team.
I asked them if they wanted to be accredited, but it was a resounding NO! I didn’t understand first till it was explained. I was quite strange to me they didn’t want the credit for such a monumental responsibility.
In vino veritas. It took a few beers to get the answer, deep down on F deck, one day (or night – night and day looses it’s meaning out here…) But I knew why I was here, pride. I thought all of ‘us’ engineers were here for the same reason, turns out – they just wanted to escape to the remotest place available. The moon sucks etc, they all had reasons, I was told. However the end story was just them creating a prison to escape a hell..
So, OK I was cool with that. Each to his own and all, so to speak. I knew not to press the issue but I was left with a unrelenting desire to know more. I only had 5 more years before the orbital transfer to slingshot back to the moon…then earth.
Something called to me. Maybe it was the reactor, maybe it was all the lives and property I was responsible for, I don’t know. But when i felt it, well, I FELT it. I could not leave this moon. As I tried to sleep that night, my head wandering full of thoughts – I had to ask myself over and over – WHY? Why do they not want to return home? More shockingly, Why did I suddenly desire to remain in this icy tomb with only the reactor calling my name in my dreams? I spoke it to my only true friend..
He only smiled and said “The reactor speaks to us all.” before he calmly walked away.