By: Ethan Shen
The spaceship is sailing through the vast emptiness of space, finally nearing its destination. The crew on board have been training for this mission for years, and are anxious to see how it will play out. A habitable planet has been found, possibly containing life already. Their mission is to help the robots already stationed there find life, take a sample, then return to Earth. They aren’t there to settle down and colonize the planet; that would be the mission of later crews.
As the ship touched down on the sandy surface, the crew slowly steps out onto the unfamiliar terrain. They touch down at a site cleared of rocks prepared by the legion of robots already working at the base. There is no obvious vegetation. The atmosphere is roughly 20% carbon dioxide, 5% oxygen, 50% nitrogen, 15% methane, and 10% other miscellaneous gasses.
The group checks out the base, preparing themselves for the expedition that lay ahead. They are to explore a cave system that had been mapped out using ground-penetrating radar in search for hidden life. As they make their way ever deeper into the caves, the temperature starts rising. The crew notice some water in the far recesses on the large starting cavern.
There were volcanic vents everywhere. Emerging from an extremely narrow crevice, the crew members are shocked to discover families of animal-like species. They appear blind, but have strange ear-like appendages. It seems as though they survived by breeding and eating another species. These other species all huddled around the volcanic vents, and vaguely looked like the surrounding stone. The crew sends a message to the surface camp, which will relay the message to the next batch of explorers, who are a few months away from arriving. Their mission has been accomplished.