In this little piece written at Meltham writing group a few weeks ago, I exclusively reveal an important scientific discovery about the moon …
There was a slight thud as the lander hit the surface. Mason grabbed his helmet and carefully screwed it into position. It took him at least a minute to be sure it was properly fixed to his suit, by which time the other three occupants were already waiting at the airlock. ‘First time I’ve used one of these,” he said into his microphone, embarrassed. The others were astronauts, professionals. He was an engineer.
As he stepped out onto the lunar surface, waves of sensation and emotion passed over him. The utter blackness of the sky, and within it the fat blue hemisphere of the earth. The weight of his body in the Moon’s gravity – a change from the weightlessness of space, but still odd. And ahead, the impressive bulk of the mining facility, testament to the effort and billions of dollars spent in getting all that steel and glass through a quarter million miles of space.
And now it was ready. Ready for him, Sebastian Mason, to begin in earnest the process of extracting resources from this giant ball of rock. As he inspected the equipment, it was clear that those who had come before him had done a good job setting it up. All seemed well. Time to start the first exploratory borehole, he told them. Let’s drill! A huge metal rod began to rotate, emitting at first a low hum, which gradually built up to a high pitched roar as it gained speed, then rapidly changed to a brutal grinding sound as it bit into rock.
Mason watched the depth gauge creep upwards. Three meters, then four, then seven. Already they were deeper into the Moon than anyone had ever drilled before. Another ten metres or so and it would be time to extract the first core. Then, to his surprise, the grinding noise subsided, the drill speeded up and the depth gauge rose rapidly. Fourteen metres, sixteen, eighteen …
“Stop it there,” said Mason. “Let’s see what we’ve got.” They raised the drill and allowed it a few minutes to cool. Then the men removed the long metal cylinder that had followed the drill bit down.
“Open it,” ordered Mason. At one end of the long rod of Moon stuff was the surface dust and rock they were already familiar with. After that, they had expected granite and, with luck, metal-bearing ores. But instead – he scratched his head in disbelief – the core was pale yellow, smooth, with spherical air pockets. In places it seemed almost liquid. The other engineers looked at each other, as confused as he was. And what was that smell? On a hunch, Mason picked up a small fragment of the yellow core and put it in his mouth.
“Cheese,” he said.