The Geyser Field
Want to visit a geyser field on Mars? On their way to the south pole, Grace and Captain Wragg stop at the last outpost and visit Dr. Thomlin and technician Dawson:
Thomlin rubbed his hands together. “Oh, how thrilling! Dawson said you wanted a geyser forecast?”
Wragg nodded. “We’re headed directly to the south pole, and we’d like to know what to expect.”
“Understood. Well, you picked a perfect time of year. The sun has boiled off a large section of the main field and—”
“Boiled off?” asked Grace.
Thomlin stopped and smiled at her. “I do so love a healthy curiosity! Yes. There’s a thick layer of underlying carbon dioxide. As we enter spring, sunlight causes the geysers to erupt.”
After leaving the outpost, they pilot their ship to the south pole. Listen to The Geyser Field as you imagine the scene.
As the ship moved forward, the undulating terrain had given way to a glassy plain of ice. Grace noticed thin, dark, vertical lines near the horizon. They looked like silhouettes of trees.
“That’s the start of the geyser field,” Wragg explained when she asked. “As we get closer, you’ll get a better idea of the scale.”
“Are they like geysers back home?” she said.
An hour went by, and the lines got closer. They became columns that shimmered as they rose into the sun, their tops bending and falling into wispy arcs as the wind held sway. Grace leaned toward the viewscreen, eager to see.
Wragg deviated from their course for Grace, swinging the cruiser within a kilometer of a massive geyser. She guessed its base was nearly a hundred meters across. A red and brown plume extended from it high up into the thin atmosphere. Large chunks of ice were tossed out of the geyser’s violent maw. They slid and came to a stop, transparent jewels glittering in the sun.
Grace turned away from the spectacle outside to see Wragg also entranced.
“Nothing like this back home, Captain?” Grace said.
“To be sure,” he nodded.