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Projects > Story-of-the-Day > extinction

January 14th, 2017

Joe jumped up from his station, "I found one! It's a small watery planet, but it definitely has signs of life. I think we should go take a look."

Steve looked up from the navigation computer, "ok, send over the coordinates."

Joe sent over the information and two minutes later they were traveling at 99.9% the speed of light towards the planet.

Steve looked up, "We'll be there in a few minutes. You think this one will have a species we can communicate with? It feels like the last 20 of these have just been bug planets."

"No way to know until we get there. But the life signs are nuts. The computer says it has life forms that are 30 meters long!

Steve looked a little nervous, "Um, are they friendly?"

"There is no record of anything leaving the planet, so I'm guessing they're not too far along. They shouldn't be a problem if they're hostile."

"Well, we're about to find out. Approaching the planet now."

Both Joe and Steve stared at the planet.

"Um, Steve. Shouldn't we be slowing down around now? That planet looks like it's getting bigger way too fast."

Steve didn't respond. He was looking intently at 3 screens. His hands were a blur as he worked to slow the ship down. "Joe, get into impact position!"

Joe sat in his chair and strapped himself in. He checked the inertial dampers and they were fully functional. The straps were a redundant system, mostly a formality. Even a crash landing at full speed wouldn't affect their ship. Joe pulled up the engineering interface and watched as Steve frantically attempted to get the deceleration program running.

Steve continued his effort, but managed to mutter "this isn't going to be pretty."

Joe shut off his screen and turned to look at the rapidly approaching planet. "I disagree. Crash landing directly into a planet causes a lot of change, but they are definitely pretty. The shade of yellow and orange as the atmosphere burns is my favorite part. Look, it's going to start soon."

Steve shut off his screen, strapped himself in, "I guess you're right, might as well enjoy the fireworks."

Less than one second elapsed between atmospheric entry and first contact with the crust of the planet. The ship came to a stop about 5%of the way to the core of the planet.

Joe blinked, "short, but sweet. I think we went into an ocean. Did you see that?"

Steve turned around and fired up his navigation screen. "Looks like everything's working now. Great timing, huh? Let's get us out of here."

The ship was solidly embedded in the magma of this planet, but seemingly slipped out with little effort.

Steve flew the ship jut above the atmosphere. He turned to look at the planet, which was now dark and covered in ash. Specks of red and orange lava peeked through their landing site. "Well, probably not much left now."

Joe looked up from his computer. "Nope. Anything down there won't be for much longer. No use in learning about a dying species from a dying planet."

"Let's get out here and find another one. I'll run diagnostic tests on all the hardware, but I'm pretty sure that was a software glitch."

"Sounds good. I'll mark this planet as going through a mass extinction event. We'll send out a new probe in a few billion years and see if anything manages to make it."

Steve looked down at the dying planet one last time. "What was the name of this planet, anyway?"

Joe looked it up, "That is Sol 3, or at least it was."