Big Head Press

Strip 619 -- First Seen: 2011-01-20
Escape From Terra is updated with new pages every Monday through Friday.

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The Transcript For This Page

Panel 1
Exterior shot of Gassend Station, in a higher, geosynchronous orbit above Mars (now imagine that basketball is twice as far away as before). We can see its elevator ribbon extending towards Mars but due to perspective it seems to disappear long before reaching the surface. On the Martian surface we can see Valles Marineris lined up with the station. The Station itself is a series of round-edged disks stacked on one other, some of them rotating. The central disk does not rotate, but has a series of docking bays arrayed around its edge. The widest disc of the station is 300 meters in diameter, and the whole structure is 100 meters thick. In the middle of the end facing away from Mars is an array of dish-shaped antennae. The end facing Mars has the port through which the space-elevator travels. In this frame we can just see an elevator a couple hundred meters below the station, a tiny blob at this distance.
Caption: The Gassend Elevator was a non-equatorial space elevator with its ground tethered approximately 9 degrees south of the equator, on the rim of Ius Chasma in Valles Marineris.
Caption: While the 9-degree offset reduces the Gassend Elevator's maximum load, it is necessary.

Panel 2
Closer shot of an Elevator traveling along the ribbon. In the background, we can see Phobos, rapidly passing by at a distance of about 150 kilometers. (Its Skyhook ribbon is too small to be seen here.) The elevator car is roughly 8 meters wide, 5 meters tall (a double-decker), and 3 meters thick. It has large windows through which we can see the silhouettes of passengers.
Caption: If it were within two degrees of the equator it would be swept away by Phobos, which orbits at a lower-than-synchronous altitude, one degree off Mars' equator.
Caption: So there are no collisions, but terrifyingly beautiful 'near misses' when elevator crawlers time their ascents and descents to be near Phobos' orbit when it passes.
Voice from inside elevator: Woooooo
Panel 3
Exterior shot of the Stickney Crater on Phobos, with the Delta-Free easing herself into the giant crater (which is almost 10 km from rim to rim and almost 4 km deep. We can see the Stickney Spaceport terminal on the crater rim, and several narrow ridges – actually the tops of underground tubes – leading from various points in the crater to the terminal. We might also see a few tiny blobs at the ends of those tubes which would be docked spacecraft. The Spaceport itself is an extensive structure, perhaps a kilometer across its longest dimension, festooned with domes and wings extending in various directions.
Caption: As tempting as the Gassend Elevator's 'near miss' experience would have been, Reggie and Babbette opted for the Barsoom Skyhook. It gave them an opportunity to play tourist on Phobos.

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