Things you need to learn before exploring Mars, part #2

Photo of Mars taken by Curiosity.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
We are close now: 30 June is just behind the corner and then you’ll be able to grab your copy of “Red Desert - Point of No Return” at only $0.99 (or maybe can you already get it?). But you still don’t know everything you need for exploring the Red Planet with Anna Persson.

In the previous post, I’ve explained six terms. If you missed them, just click here. Six more terms are reported below. For each on of them, after the definition, I’ll tell you something related to “Red Desert”.


Dust storm. A dust storm is a meteorological phenomenon during which a strong wind blows small particles of sand or dirt from a dry surface, transports them to another place where they are deposited. In general it is also called sand storm, but the term dust storm is more suitable when talking about Mars, where the atmosphere is so thin that it can lift only tiny particles.
Dust storms are very frequent on the Red Planet. They can partly block the solar radiation for long periods and preventing the orbiters to have a clear sight on the surface of the planet.
Anna will encounter a dust storm at the beginning of her journey, which will help her disappear into the desert.

Extravehicular activity (EVA). It's an activity done by an astronaut when going outside a spacecraft beyond Earth's atmosphere. That means the astronaut must wear a spacesuit and is completely reliant on it for environmental support. It is also called spacewalk.
Since the Martian atmosphere cannot sustain human life, a walk on the surface of Mars can also be considered a kind of EVA, even when you are not getting out from a vehicle (e.g. you are in a pressurised building).
Every time you exit Station Alpha or a pressurised rover you are basically doing an extravehicular activity.

Habitat (o Hab). It's a modular, pressurised building on the surface of a planet whose atmosphere is unable to sustain human life, which is completely self-sufficient and separated by the outside.
Station Alpha is a habitat on Mars.

Johnson Space Center (JSC). This centre, whose complete name is Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, is a NASA complex for human spaceflight training, research and flight control, located in Houston, Texas. This is the place where US and international astronauts are trained.
The crew of Isis mission was trained at the centre, which in the story also includes a dedicated building for Mars manned exploration called Ares Building.

Launch window. It is the optimal period during which a mission should be launched so that the spacecraft can take advantage of the gravitational forces to travel toward its destination in the shortest possible time.
The launch window for Mars occurs approximately every two Earth years.

Lunae Planum. It is a large region mostly located in the northern hemisphere of Mars. Though it can appear as a flatland, it also includes many impact craters and dry river beds caused by water in early history of the Red Planet, which interrupt the plains and highlands. In its southern border it meets Valles Marineris, the most complex canyon of the Solar System.
Station Alpha is located in Lunae Planum.

Red Desert - Point of No Return” will be published on 30 June 2014, but you can already pre-order it on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes at only $0.99 or grab a pre-launch copy on Amazon now.
It will also be available
on Google Play on the publication date.

Go to part #3.