Landing on a comet

Posted: December 18, 2014 in Writing
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I must say, I was very intrigued with the whole landing-on-a-comet mission from the European Space Agency (ESA – Europe’s NASA). It spurred memories of the asteroid busting movie “Armageddon”. But what if we thought of comets and asteroids not only as threats, but as transports for communications networks and shuttles of deep space.
I was reading about the fantastic mankind accomplishment and thinking of different ways to use this for a story. Imagine landing satellite and communication stations that would continue to travel throughout the edge of our solar system.
Most comets we hear about come from the Kuiper belt. This belt of ice rocks starts outside of Neptune. In fact, it was later determined that Pluto is yet another Kuiper object. Halley’s comet is believed to originate from this belt and returns from a long orbit every 76 years.
So let’s extend it out a few years. It’s not common place, but we start landing observation satellites on several comets, taking advantage of their long orbits and continued propulsion to start a net of satellites.
One of the short orbit satellites is back after only a few years and is going to get an upgrade. A manned mission takes a small crew of four to land on the comet and replace some component. During their trip out, something happens with their water supply. They’re forced to filter and drink the water from the ice of the comet. As we’ve recently discovered (and this part is true), the water on the comet is slightly different from the water on earth. Captain Russell Chapman can feel himself changing because of this water. He’s healthier. Stronger. Smarter. He goes to collect one more chunk of ice for the return trip and when he returns to their space module, the other three men are gone…

Okay. Not my best. This doesn’t start with a strong story question. But the idea to use asteroids and comets as self-propelled satellites is interesting. Imagine landing on one and missing the moment needed to return home. You could come up with all sorts of ideas.

Please feel free to comment below. I’m wondering myself how this story could be better constructed and end.
Here’s one of the main pages for the team and science behind the magnificent milestone.
Check it out:

Landing on a comet

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