(Continued from Part 3)
Kendall discovered the message by accident when the station vibrated. Next to channel seven on the inertial display, the decryption read, “The gauntlet is thrown.”
“Who’s on my private frequency?” Kendall spoke to an empty control room while examining the space station accelerometer data. “And what’s causing these oscillations?”
A computerized voice came over the intercom. “Captain Parker?”
“Go ahead, A4.”
“Kendall, my sensors just picked up another vertical fluctuation in the station. Spectral analysis indicates that for a few seconds, the normal fifteen Hertz vibration was riding on a slower wave of larger amplitude.”
“Yes, I’m reading it too.” Kendall examined several indications on the monitor. “The amplitude was bigger than the last time.”
A4, the human shaped robot, or Autonomous Android Astronomy Assistant processed related data from various sensors throughout his trans-reflective silver, five-foot tall, space suit.
“Did you scan the satellites,” Kendall said, “when the anomaly happened?”
“Of course I did,” A4 said, “I feel insulted.”
“Insulted?” Kendall said, “I think Dmitry has your emotion setting too high.”
“Actually,” A4 continued. “I attempted to scan the satellites, but the movement damped-out before I could acquire sufficient samples. All I got was the low frequency wave.” A4 was quiet for a few seconds. “Captain Parker, did you modify protocols during my refresh period last night? I failed my self test this morning.”
“No,” Kendall said. “Is it possible your fuzzy logic created new inferences and failed to update the parameters?”
“That is not probable,” A4 said.
“Okay. Examine your log files with Dmitry when he gets here. Anyway, regarding our little station bump,” Kendall continued, “Could anything but the M-Sats cause the station to bounce like that?”
“Other causes would have been detected by primary and secondary sensors,” A4 dutifully reported. “These include, solar flare, nuclear blast, gravity pulse, tractor beam, meteoroid or debris impact, maglev calibrations, or explosion of one of the stations liquid propulsion tanks, and….”
Kendall didn’t respond so A4 continued his analysis.
“I’ve compared the wing and platform sensor data. Station accelerometer movement lagged the wing movement by 260 milliseconds. That’s how long it would take for the movement to propagate from the wing down to the stations main platform. It’s definitely originating from the wing, and likely from the M-Sats.”
“Roger that, A4. Keep analyzing what data we have. Kendall out.”
Captain Parker examined recorded data on the monitor, comparing the latest readings with prior flutters. After a few minutes, he relaxed, looked up from the monitors and through the tinted windows out at the sun. He thought for a moment and remembered how he had described this scene to his wife a few days earlier. He sat down at his control station, typed a few characters and retrieved a message from his Sent file.
The message read, It’s never really day, but it’s never really night. At no time does the sun rise, for ne’er does the sun set. A mere 150 million kilometers away, the sun just hovers there ejecting its never failing radiation in every direction flooding the solar system and half the Earth with the light of life.
“She loves it when I get poetic,” he thought.
Well above the atmosphere, for the next twenty-four months, 45 year-old Kendall Parker, with his family, would soon command Polaris Station, laying claim to the one and only residential address: zero degrees east, 90 degrees north, 619 km up, straight up, above the Arctic ocean, far above what little remained of the polar ice cap.
Minimizing risk to his family, Kendall was the sole human occupant preceding the arrival of his wife, science officer Katya Parker, and their two college children, Becca and Dmitry. Kendall and A4 arrived two months earlier to perform final functional checks and calibrations of the geo-polar-stationary space station.
Kendall Parker was honed physically. With sandy blonde short hair and blue eyes he was handsome and slender, physically and mentally active. Inside the station, when not performing rigorous duties, he preferred sandals, shorts, and a well-worn Beach Boys tee-shirt.
Being isolated on this station for two months, he thought, is like taking a business trip to Maui, alone. So much to see, so much to feel, so much to explore, and no one to share it with. Katya will be like a child in a candy store; the Milky Way unimaginably brilliant from the station’s dark side; the constellations almost undetectable against the backdrop of all the less brilliant stars and galaxies; and the sun, phenomenal through the spectral filters. Kendall adjusted a radiation sensor, checked the production rate on the CO2 scrubbers, then looked at his watch. I can’t wait ‘til the brightest family on, or off the planet sets foot on the ultimate observatory. And the experts said it couldn’t be done.
(Continue at Part 5)