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Home / Science / A strange interstellar object appears in this excerpt The Last Astronaut on Earth

A strange interstellar object appears in this excerpt The Last Astronaut on Earth

David Wellington is known for his extensive catalog of stories, such as his Monsters, Vampires, Werewolves, and Plague Novels which branched out into space opera for several years prior to his The Silence t -Rilogy ( Forsaken Skies Forgotten Worlds and Forbidden Suns ), which he wrote under the name D Nolan Clark. Later this month he will release his latest science fiction thriller, The Last Astronaut .

In it, the astronaut Sally Jansen has dealt with a Mars mission that has gone catastrophically wrong, and NASA ended their manned missions into space. But as it tries to move on, scientists are discovering an object called the 2I / 2044 D1

that invades our solar system, and as it slows down, they find it to be an alien artifact. Jansen is called to try to intercept the object and find out what's behind it before it reaches Earth.

Publisher's Weekly rated the book with a star and said Wellington "creates a gripping story that unveils its horrors as one unstoppable, plausible detail after another. The readers will be thrilled – and want to stop all the lights.

The novel will be released on the 23rd of July and we have an excerpt for you, which you can read below.

Preflight Check

Sunny had given this presentation several times. The first time he talked to McAllister's boss-the NASA administrator, the chief honcho-it took him ninety minutes to get through. When he delivered the same speech to the NASA Advisory Groups, Mission Directorates, and staff units, he had come down to just under twenty. Then one day, they put him in front of a 3D camera and told him he was talking directly to the President of the United States. This time he had five minutes.

Now he gave the talk one last time. You promised. He was still nerve-wracking when he walked to the sixth classroom of JPL and loaded all of his files onto the screen on the podium. Who could you possibly bring with you during this time? The Secretary-General of the United Nations? The classroom can accommodate 120 people. Today, only four came in and sat in the big chairs in the stadium style. Two of them sat in the middle row, a few places apart. A southeast Asian woman in a cardigan and a military man with tons of medals on the front of his uniform. He took off his hat and sat it carefully on the seat next to him. Sunny caught the woman's eyes and smiled. She gave him a very quick, firm little smile, then leaned forward and hugged her knees as if she were very nervous. Maybe she had an idea of ​​what he was going to say.

Two more people came in and sat down in the front row. Roy McAllister and a middle-aged woman wearing cheap AR sunglasses. It took Sunny a minute to see who he was looking at.

"Wait," he said. "Wait – she is – you are -"

"You clearly recognize Mrs. Jansen," McAllister said. "So let me introduce you. Everyone, that's Sunny Stevens. He is an astrophysicist and works in our Planetary Science Directorate. He may look young, but do not let that fool you. He is well on the way to his first Nobel Prize. Most likely for the discovery he'll tell you about today.

Sunny nodded and barely listened, it was her, Sally Jansen looked straight at him

The woman who had killed Blaine Wilson, the woman who had lost the race to Mars, what the hell This was top secret and not intended for every stranded astronaut that NASA could tow off the road –

"We're on time, dr. Stevens, "McAllister said," maybe we could … "

Sunny nodded and exhaled deeply, he was thrown a bit, but he could do that, he knew it all by heart, he only wished – he wished, Jansen Anyone in his generation used only an earring or a nose ring as a device, the sunglasses made it impossible to see their eyes, knowing what they were thinking.

Still, that was she knew just one more person to convince, Sunny knew what these presentations were about, he tapped the screen on the podium and started.

Light bloomed over them as an AR image formed and pixels fused from the air.

"This," he said, pointing to the air above their heads, "is an object named 1I / 2017 U1. Also called "Oumuamua". This is a Hawaiian word meaning "first messenger".

In augmented reality, the object idly rotated around its short axis. Honestly, it did not look like much. It was a cigar-shaped lump of stone with a dull red color. The picture was very pixelated. "We never really looked at it. It came into the solar system in 2017, long before I was born, and um. , ,

It occurred to him that some of the people who listened to him were old enough to remember 2017. They sat there and looked like boulders themselves. He wiped the thought away and went on.

"It was just another rock, a piece of space debris, not even big enough to worry about." Beams appeared around the image, indicating that "Oumuamua was thirty-five meters wide and 230 meters long. "They could not even figure out what it was at that time, whether it was an asteroid or a comet, but there was one thing that got a lot of attention, it's not from our solar system."

The image was scaled down to accommodate the Lane "Oumuamua has orbited the sun and it emerged almost perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic from space – the plane around the equator of the sun, in which all the planets orbited – it moved very, very fast and swung around the sun to shoot in a loop at a new angle that passed the inner planet and eventually returned to outer space.

"We still do not know where it comes from. Maybe somewhere around Star Vega. But yes – it came from out there. Out there in the galaxy. As he warmed, Sunny had to resist the urge to bounce up and down the stage. Here it became very interesting. "It happened the interstellar space – it could have been there for a hundred thousand years or more. Then it was briefly through our solar system, before it went back into the dark. Our telescopes were not that great at the time and we barely saw them. But it has changed – well, a whole lot of things in astronomy. For the first time, we really thought about what else is there. "

He tapped the screen and" Oumuamua's path drew a white curve around the sun. He tapped the screen again and a second turn appeared.

"If you look at a specimen of a new object type in astronomy, you will find more of it at first glance, the universe is so large that there are very few unique things, and we had to assume that this was not the case In 17, KSpace was still working on launching its first rocket, but they already had a strong interest in astronomy, as they conducted a radio telescope survey to search for other I-objects In particular, I created a new search pattern that focused on the part of the sky where Oumuamua came from, and I thought that if a stone came from that direction, maybe more of them would come from the same place Turns out I was right. "

The second white curve drew almost exactly the same arc as the first." That's 2I / 2054 D1. "He could not help but se into a sparse audience. "My baby."

He turned and watched the white curves, as always fascinated by the cosmic duet.

"If Oumuamua was funny, it was me too, in the same way. It has the same deep red color. It's the same basic cigar shape, about eight times the width. That was enough to arouse my interest. But then I used a light curve analysis to get a better idea of ​​its size. "

A graphic representation of" Oumuamua "appeared as a small, spindle-shaped form hovering in front of the screen. A tiny blur of low-resolution pixels. I appeared above it – and put it in the shade.

"2I is about three hundred and fifty times bigger than Oumuamua. Identical in almost every way except on a massively larger scale. I estimated that it has a diameter of ten kilometers and a length of eighty kilometers. And it is currently approaching us, consuming 26 kilometers every second.

Sally Jansen coughed for his attention. "That sounds fast," she said. "Too fast."

Sunny gave her a wary smile, at least she paid attention, "Oh, yes," he said that's why 2I is really interesting. Both, Oumuamua and 2I, approached us at the same speed. Interstellar speed, call it. Most comets, even those that are really fast, reach a speed of about five kilometers per second. The fastest spaceship ever built – Voyager 2 – moves about fifteen kilometers per second. There is, however, a difference. Comets and planets and all things natural will have the same speed forever, right? We know the laws of physics and know how they apply to large, mute objects that move through space. "Oumuamua has followed all these rules. It came really fast. Then it accelerated as it turned around the sun, which makes sense; It used the gravity of the sun to get the spin effect and accelerate itself. Originally, we thought I would do the same, "he said, pointing to the white curves above his head. Swing around the sun, get a good head of steam and go back to the stars, we would barely see it. I expected that – what everyone expected. Only not.

He tapped the screen, his heart pounding in his chest, which was what he had to explain, the reason he was giving this presentation.

"It has slowed down," Stevens announced. Slowed down, the last time I checked, it was only twenty-one miles a second, and it's still slowing down.That should not be, I mean, there are reasons why an astronomical body could slow down, drag or one Collision with another object, or whatever, but none of them fit in. 2I did not act like a normal Space Rock, but what did that mean? Then it started and answered the question for us. It has the course

On the screen, the white curve bent inward and moved away from the sun. "Without physical explanation, it began to move in a direction we did not expect." The white curve made a tender, graceful arc towards the plane of the ecliptic – and the orbits of the planets. A planet in particular.

"It's going to Earth," Stevens said. "If it maintains its current course and slows down, it will be in orbit in about six months, until it slows to less than eleven kilometers per second – in other words, less than Earth's escape velocity." 19659037] "For me," said Sunny, "this looks like a classic Hohmann transfer orbit." He waved to the screen and the trajectory continued as a dotted line, zooming in so they could see the curve This is just a speculation, but I think it will someday make another course correction using very little Delta-V. A minimal push effort. With just a little push, it could enter a polar Earth orbit.

Jansen leaned forward in her seat. The AR simulation was good enough for Sunny to see the white curves on the black lenses of her sunglasses.

"Comets and asteroids do not act that way," she said. "What you say -"

Sunny then jumped up and down a bit. He put his hands in his pockets because he did not know what else to do with them.

"It's not a comet or asteroid, it's a spaceship, it's a spaceship that moves on its own."

"And if it comes from space, that means it's a spaceship." McAllister said softly. "An alien vehicle."

ROY MCALLISTER, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR EXPLORATION AND OPERATIONS, NASA: We have tried to contact 2I in any manner known to us. We have had a set of radio signals designed by a SETI institute to show our presence, our intelligence and our willingness to communicate. We used the world's most powerful wireless transmitters to send the signals and repeated the message hundreds of times a day. There was no answer, not even a confirmation that the aliens had received our call. We had to know as soon as possible what our intentions were. It was not an academic question. Maybe I wanted to circle the earth. It was also possible that it was sent directly into us. Such a large object moving at this speed would wipe out all life on the planet. I took Dr. Stevens & # 39; presentation to any government scientific and political body that would listen. There were many doors open to me – an astrophysicist did not need to understand how important this was.

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