23rd June 2075, the day everyone was waiting for! Chloe a thirteen-year-old, squealed with delight as she woke up at the break of dawn. It was the day when she and her friends finally got to go on the school week trip to Moon! Last year they went into the Earth’s atmosphere and learnt about the various layers live in space and the year before that they went to the north pole. The trip to the moon was a 5-day trip, taking about a day to reach, spending 3 days there and coming back in a day. She made sure all her belongings and supplies were ready. The ‘Extravehicular Mobility Unit’ or the space suit, oxygen converters, the UV protectors due to the lack of the ozone layer on Moon and various other things that were needed. She said her goodbyes and teleported to her school from where they would go to the NASA headquarters to take off.
She met all of her exhilarated friends and soon they were standing before 7 huge space crafts with N-Sal75 written boldly in red on them. 50 students along with 10 teachers and a NASA team were expected aboard. As they got in, Chloe was appalled by the millions of tiny buttons, machines and robots covering the space craft. One pressurized cabin was assigned to 4 children having 4 beds, the automatic snack maker, the bathroom, and a 4-foot AI robot designed to answer questions about the journey and keep you from being bored. The flight was of 32 hours covering 386,400 kilometres in a light bolting speed. As Chloe got in her cabin, she was informed to read the safety measures and emergency procedures that were shown on the Digital Air Screen Watch on every child’s wrist – an artificial screen made up of protons creating an actual screen like display in front of you when the button is pressed.
Everyone was told to be safely seated in their cabins and to shift their cabin mode to “Seat belt” Now the time for the mighty take off! After a series of automated voice take overs, the countdown began, 10, 9, 8….2, 1 Go! Chloe could hear her heart beating as fast as the space craft shot up into the sky. In a matter of seconds, they were in the earth’s stratosphere.
Chloe couldn’t sleep thinking about how life on moon would be. She was starving and pressed one of the buttons saying “mac and cheese” on the automated food machine which combined various food molecules into a scrumptious meal. Ding! Ahh…the smell of fresh pasta soothed her and she ravenously dug in. She wondered how tedious it would have been for humans before this machine was invented. She looked out of the glass window and she could see the cratered white moon glowing in a distance. After playing loads of games with her friends and the robot named Alexa 2.0, (named after the popular personal assistant made in the ’20s) and a million “are we there yets” a sudden voice-over satisfied everyone’s restlessness – “Please remain seated and switch to “Anti Seat Belt Mode” for we had successfully landed on the Moon!” Chloe was delighted! She was on top of the world – the moon, literally!
Activating the Space-Suit mode on their Air Screens, their mobility unit slowly formed around their legs and grew to their heads ending with the glass helmet. They got out and ventured onto the moon seeing two distinct layers, the cratered moon surface and the endless black starry space surrounding them. They also realised, moons gravity being 1/6 of that of Earths, they could jump high up and float around having a sublime experience. They could also switch the gravity settings of their suit and walk around without having to float about. They were surrounded by many machines building temporary pressurized and oxygenized tents to stay in for 3 days. They were informed to stay and wander about only within the boundaries marked and anyone to go beyond it would have to bear severe consequences. Many activities and experiments were set up for the days following and everyone was exuberant.
After a quick snack break, the first activity was to check the air levels of the moon’s atmosphere using a special device called AeroMeter. The first 3 gases were the three gases neon, helium, and hydrogen, in roughly equal amounts. The others were slight amounts of argon but below it was oxygen, carbon dioxide and traces of water vapour which was an unusual sight. The NASA team muttered some words and went back into the space craft for another device. Everyone was puzzled as to how these earthy gases were detected. The second device they got read the levels more precisely as to their surprise the 3 unusual gases still showed up. Something was definitely absurd. Chloe wondered if the moon had the 3 vital gases, they had actually made an astonishing discovery that moon can possibly harbour life. The NASA team apprised that they are going to research and pull up reports and they could rest for the time being.
As Chloe made way back into their tent, she spilt her thoughts to her friends. They pondered at the idea of life on Moon and they chattered about the same. As Chloe’s friend sat down, she noticed something slimy and green beside her. It looked like an alien plant! She clicked a picture and added voice message and sent it to the teachers. The NASA team was called once again and they observed it and ran tests. After what seemed like 100 years, they finally shared their results. It was a green algae-like plant which was never spotted on earth before, though it has similar characteristics except it converts neon in air to gases like carbon dioxide and oxygen along with transpiring water vapour which was the reason the AeroMeter detected these gases.
People were stunned after hearing this. They actually found life on Moon! Chloe and her friends thought, Moon has sunlight, the 2 vital gases and water in a gaseous state which are the basic elements needed to survive! Food, shelter and other necessities are already available with the help of technology. They shared their discovery with the other students, teachers and the NASA team. Everyone thought that it was quite possible!
The next 2 days were spent looking for more kind of plants and unusual objects. The boundry rules were enforced once again to the students as the danger on the moon now was quite a mystery. The robots scanned the whole surface and took digital shots. More of the green algae were spotted on the surface along with puddles of water in craters. While more tests and trails ran, the students called their parents and briefed in about their riveting discoveries. Yes, inter-planetoid (or satellite) communication had been developed! A few cheery faces underneath the space suit soon turned horrified as the saw 2 tall black silhouetted shadows in front of them. Fearing the invasion of aliens, they turned around to find their teachers eager to share the latest news. Sighing in relief they turned off their Air Devices and teleported to the central tent.
The teachers told them about the water containing harmful substances and unfit for consumption. Also, the green plants performed similar photosynthesis but instead of manufacturing glucose, they carry out the conversion of gases. A pretty interesting fact! As the NASA team came in, they were live with TodayNews filling them in about the findings. Chloe and her classmates were actually on screen, live to the whole world! After resting for a while, they played many games and activities with their classmates. Their trip to the moon was about to end in a few hours as they had to go back to earth.
This experience was truly one of a kind, a journey to the moon was what they had in mind but they were totally unaware of the mysteries awaiting them. As they reluctantly got into the space craft, they looked around at the white empty cratered surface which had been cleared of the tents by robots. Memories and moments, they never dared to lose, came flooding by and they hoped they could visit this wonderland once again. Chloe returned to her cabin, greeted by Alexa 2.0. As she sat beside her friends during the flight, she viewed all the pictures and voice journals she had taken. These were the digital memories she had but the real ones were the timeless treasures that would last for forever with her.
Soon they landed on earth and said their goodbyes to the teachers and classmates. As Chloe reached home, she saw the news – High School students discover life on Moon! More research to be carried on by NASA. She thought, maybe after some research we’ll finally know where the moon stands. Can life exist on it or not?
Featured image courtesy – https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org