Age Of Cosmic Exploration - Chapter 68
Chapter 68: Alien Plant's User Manual
Translator: Lonelytree Editor: Lucas
After two months of sailing, the Hope finally reached the forming terrestrial planet.
This meteorite cluster was miles different from the one they were harvesting from previously. Since the previous cluster was a precursor for a gas giant, the overall size of its individual asteroids was small and they were far in between.
This cluster, however, was made up of asteroids of differing sizes. There were some as small as several cubic meters while others were several hundred cubic meters big. In its center, there were a few asteroids that were as big as Earth's moon. They were not uniformly shaped;a result from collision with one another.
The asteroid the Academy selected for landing was the biggest among the bunch. According to calculations of its size and mass, it had about one twelfth of Earth's gravitational force. That force was strong enough to ensure that the Hope stayed landed. Simultaneously, calculations revealed that the asteroid had a dirt layer, which meant that mining could be conducted on it.
Before landing could be done, there remained a lot of preparations to be completed. Thanks to their experience on Planet Sahara, no one on the Hope was willing to take any more chances. Before the scheduled landing date, more than a handful of surveillance devices were dropped onto the asteroid.
The devices were used to conduct a series of analyses. From its gravity to its magnetism, all sorts of data was collected. Thankfully, all of the results matched the Academy's hypothesis. Thus, on the third day the Hope arrived at the cluster, it started landing.
The landing finished without a hitch. The whole of the Hope breathed a sigh of relief when the giant ship landed softly on the asteroid's surface;some of them even cheered.
In the following days, a rudimentary scouting party was formed. Naturally, it was mostly fitted with military personnel, and a few scientists tagged along. Using a hastily-constructed landing craft, the party departed from the Hope to secure its perimeter and collect some soil and rock samples.
That finished without a problem as well.
What followed was a few days dedicated to analysis...
There were still many wonders waiting to be discovered in space, but one couldn't just jump heedless into it. There were plans to be charted and precautions to be taken. The level of caution was especially heightened when the lives of 120000 people were tied to it.
Six days sped past before the Academy could present its analysis result. The asteroid posed no observable dangers. However, since it didn't have an atmosphere, spacesuits must be worn at all times when one was outside the base and the Hope. Furthermore, warnings like not to stare directly into the new sun were issued by the government.
On the seventh day after landing, a mining crew was finally dispatched. They had selected a flat land three kilometers away from the Hope as their mining site. Because they were preparing for a base that could accommodate 120000 people, the workload was incredibly heavy.
The idea seemed so implausible that most of the citizens didn't believe it could be done. And there was basis behind their concern. This was, after all, not a construction project on Earth, which could be rushed, and even if it was an earthbound construction, it was still hard to unearth an underground space big enough for 120000 people in three months.
However, these people were clueless to an important detail, a detail that compelled the mining crew to dig a deep hole on the asteroid's surface. The hole's opening was only about ten meters wide before it expanded in size underground.
Within the Hope, under Yao Yuan's watchful eyes, Ivan was leading his team with an experiment on the alien plant.
Yes, the Whisperer, Ivan, had had a full recovery thanks to the skin transplant futuristic technology. Other than a few scars that were still visible on his face, he had recovered fully from the severe burn. Of course, due to his contribution to the reverse crystallization potion, he was granted a few more promotions and was now a famed and revered biologist on the Hope.
And Ivan's current experiment represented the most important detail that would allow the dig site to be completed within three months.
The scientists had suggested using the alien plant to speed up the digging process. Since they were going to use it to harvest the mineral ore anyway, this would be killing two birds with one stone.
’’...Okay, I admit that that was beyond my wildest dreams.’’
That was what Yao Yuan said the day he was presented this proposal. However, he was even more surprised by the Academy's ability to think so outside of the box.
Its crystallization process, harvesting method, and alloy composition, all of these were details that were unknown to man when they first encountered this plant. However, the Academy had never slackened. Little by little, they had unraveled the mystery behind this engineering marvel. And now they could even engineer the plant to benefit them;it was definitely impressive.
Yao Yuan asked, ’’Using the plant will indeed speed up the digging process greatly, but you guys have to understand, we still have no full control over these plants. If we allow them to grow wild, they might harm us in the end.
’’Although these plants won't directly harm us, they will consume everything in their proximity, and this includes our spacesuits. Do I need to remind you that this asteroid has no atmosphere? Also, what if the plant ends up desertifying the asteroid like it did to Planet Sahara? How will we handle it then?’’
To which the group of scientists provided an answer that made them sound less like men and women of science but fantasy novelists.
’’Indeed, with the plant's accelerated growth, it might get out of hand easily. Plus, the asteroid's lack of atmosphere does complicate things. It would be hard to manually inject the virus in this environment. So how about we introduce the virus into its system beforehand?’’
’’Introduce the virus beforehand?’’ Yao Yuan repeated dumbly.
’’Yes, with a pre-prepared virus capsule. But since these plants are highly sensitive to the virus, it is impossible to introduce it into them the conventional way, as they will wilt almost instantly. But don't worry, because we have come up with a plan...
’’There is one thing that the plant won't consume, and that is the energy crystal that it produces. According to our testing, the plant will only reabsorb it into its system.
’’Therefore, Major, we are going to embed a nano-machine into a small energy crystal and let it be absorbed by the plant. The machine will contain a capsule of the plant virus. The machine will be controlled via a remote so that when the time comes, we can use the remote to order the machine to release the virus. In case of interference, the machine could also be timed. After a specified length of time, let's say, three or five days, it can be programmed to automatically break out of the crystal and release the toxin. And then, the plants all over the asteroid will wilt and die!
’’That, sir, is our plan to use these plants! In fact, we've found ways to turn these plants into a beneficial tool! From matters of harvesting, mining, energy supplying, and new alloy industry, we are slowly compiling a user manual!
’’Yes, Major, our technological level might be laughably low when compared to other alien civilizations, but that is not because we're simple minded, it's just that we lack the necessary experience!
’’Man's intellect... will never be overshadowed by any other civilization!’’