"They say the journey matters more than the destination. I disagree. The destination is everything."
- Alex O’Hearn, biologist of Odyssey I
and Odyssey II
Here is a shot of the interstellar ship Odyssey
approaching its destination, a habitable exoplanet orbiting Barnard's Star. The picture was taken from one of the seven uncrewed companion craft carrying equipment, food, and supplies for the expedition.
More about Odyssey
"Does it look like Earth, but redder? Well, it has oceans, continents, rivers, mountains, deserts, islands, and a substellar tropical storm massive enough to swallow Kansas in one gulp, and the rest of the States along with it. That last one was the first indication that we were not
in Kansas anymore. Swinging around the dark side brought the second shock. The familiar symphony of lights that spread across Earth like a bioluminescent slime mold were nowhere in sight. Try as I might, I couldn’t make out the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, the brilliant Nile, or the stark contrast between Europe and its seas. Ilion’s night was as dark as Mars’s, if not more so. This, of course, made the thunderstorms all the more spectacular."
- Michael Vander, commander of Odyssey I
Ilion’s present climate is wholly dependent on the presence of a shallow ocean at the substellar point. The tidally-locked planet would look very different if there were a landmass here instead. The land would be extremely hot and dry at zenith, leaving only a ring of habitability between the substellar point and the terminator. Ilion is not that way. The sun’s heat and air currents whip the humid air at the Greater Ajax Ocean into a permanent, stable tempest. Periodically, a secondary storm will split from this system and head toward the continents. Of these, the hardest hit is Pandaros, where rainstorms supply the forests with water beyond what the trees produce themselves. Pandaros is by far the wettest continent, followed by Aeneas, where Elephant Gulf supplies ample fog to the temperate south. A surprising number of storms make all the way to Polyxena. Near the west terminator, these systems manifest as blizzards that can last weeks. Polyxena’s climate is highly sensitive to changes in solar output. At times, conditions render it uninhabitable. The continent’s few permanent residents must cope by migrating, hibernating, or sowing seeds that wait patiently for favorable conditions before sprouting.
"Take a look at this shot from last week’s EVA. See the frozen oceans near the terminator, where a wealth of climate data could be gathered from the ice layers? We won’t be landing there tomorrow. Halfway around the world is a caldera that is way bigger than it has any right to be. It would be a great place to study the stratigraphy and uncover a piece of the world’s geological history. And that’s too bad, because we’re not going there, either. The Greater Ajax Ocean faces the noonday sun at all hours of the day. Tropical storms rise out of these waters and circulate warm air around the globe, preventing the atmosphere from freezing on the dark hemisphere. These systems do not reach the desert that covers a large part of the continent to the north. A mountain range on the southern border of Deiphobus creates a rain shadow, and the plants there must weigh the benefits of near-direct sunlight against the scarcity of water. Their unique adaptations to the arid climate may never be known, because that’s not where we’re headed.
"See that hair-thin valley, right at the rainforest’s edge, at the marked latitude and longitude? No? That’s because the area we’ll be exploring is too small to see with the naked eye from up here. It took almost three years and half a trillion US dollars to bring us here, and we’ll be fleas on the elephant’s back. I hope humankind’s search for neighbors in the cosmos doesn’t end with our tiny sample of Ilion’s diverse landscape. Sixty square kilometers does not do it justice."
- Rashid Andiyar, pilot and mechanic of Odyssey I
This drawing is huge. It measures 24x18 in. The entire thing is bic pen except for the star field, which is black and white acrylic gesso. I watered down a small amout of white gesso for the atmosphere as well.
I will try to get a sharper photo up in the near future.