“I’ve been to nine planets in twelve years and it’s starting to show,” the man said in an even voice with a hint of weariness.

“How many of those planets you discovered?” the interviewer asked.

Davidic Bowman James stared at the interviewer confusingly. “Discovered?”

“Yeah, discovered,” the man holding a recording device said. His assistant, a female in a simple business jumper holding a video recorder quietly whispered to the interviewer’s ear. The man looked at James, and nodded a few times. He looked at James apologetically and said, “I apologize for my last question. Let me rephrase it another way. ‘How many planets did you visited and verified yourself?”

Planetary verification is the probably the most tedious job in Kingdom space. Planetary telescopes and interstellar probes can be deployed and record telemetry from distant stellar systems. The telemetry was gathered and then interpreted by a series of calculations. These calculations would later determine whether there are planets or not in those starts many light years away. While it’s possible to send an unmanned space probe to record and verify planetary data on distant starts, nothing beats the excitement and pride of sending a manned spacecraft to confirm the planets’ existence. A good set of eyes beat any computerized interpretation any day, the old saying goes.

Throughout his career in the Interstellar Exploration Corps, James has visually confirmed over forty planets and stepped foot on four distinctive ones throughout his ten-years career. He never saw a lush life-supporting planet though, not unlike the Paradise where he’s currently on. His mind wandered at this experience as he focused back on the interviewer’s last question.

“I’ve visited forty-nine planets and set foot on four of them. All of them were visually verified by me and my fellow crew,” James answered. “The first planet my ship visited twelve years ago was a dwarf planet at the edge of the Herculean system. The dwarf planet had a very erratic orbit, which creates a jump line once every two solar years.”

The interviewer feigned interest and asked a different question, “What about those planets you set foot on. Did any of them supported life?”

“No. None of them did, although all four of them were terrestrial and located within the Goldilocks zone.” James described in detail about the prerequisites of life-supporting planets: the star’s radiation has to be at a certain amount, the planet’s atmosphere must be able to filter cosmic rays, and the planet’s atmosphere have to have series of precise conditions to allow life to not only survive, but thrive. Centuries ago his ancestors were obsessed in finding planets that contain water. James encountered many planets with water, but again, the conditions were not right enough for the planets to support life. Either the atmospheric proportion weren’t right, or the planet’s gravity was too strong. Eventually, James resigned to his fate that finding a habitable planet is like winning the impossible lottery. It takes a lot of luck to get one. Which was probably why the Kingdom only have three planets that support life, one which is Etena Prime… the Kingdom’s Gem on the edge of the known frontier.

The interviewer from Eterna Media Network asked a few more questions about James’ experience in space, what his spacecraft was like and how his crew came together. After fifteen minutes which felt like fifteen hours, James was more than happy to leave the interview room.

 

Copyrighted 2016 Arvin N. Chandra

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