Earth Mirror  Text, image
A version of this short narrative was published in RAMDOM: Default19: Extreme Lands – © 2019 Ramdom editions.

For many years they studied the distant light reflected from this planetary surface. They viewed the terrain 24.7 degrees north latitude, 339.5 degrees east longitude, in the northern highlands. Their vision was limited to the perspective of data. In particular they were interested in the old plateaus around the valley and the crater. They searched for hydrated minerals or sediments in the channel and where the channel emptied into the basin. They hypothesised that the flood that created the channel had eroded and exposed ancient hydrated clay-rich minerals. 

For their earthly experiments 129 samples were ground for approximately 10 minutes in a mechanical mortar grinder in order to obtain fine powders suitable for IR spectral analyses. Their numerous graphs plotted infrared light absorbance vs frequency and wavelength.

They longed to run tests on extraterrestrial samples in their sophisticated laboratories – not just those of orbiters, landers and rovers. Their results remain inconclusive due to the impossibility of the return of a genuine sample. By night they dream of the intelligences within this vast geological archive.

Image: Double sided print and mirror.  Image 1: Clay layers at Mawrth Vallis.  Image 2. Rocks from Gagliano del Capo that contain fossilised coral and have been studied by scientists to help see if we can determine if rocks on Mars might also have a biotic composition, thereby prove the (prior) existence of life.

© Julie F Hill, 2021