radio waves

Cassini Spacecraft: Top Discoveries

Our Cassini spacecraft has been exploring Saturn, its stunning rings and its strange and beautiful moons for more than a decade.

Having expended almost every bit of the rocket propellant it carried to Saturn, operators are deliberately plunging Cassini into the planet to ensure Saturn’s moons will remain pristine for future exploration – in particular, the ice-covered, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus, but also Titan, with its intriguing pre-biotic chemistry.

Let’s take a look back at some of Cassini’s top discoveries:  

Titan

Under its shroud of haze, Saturn’s planet-sized moon Titan hides dunes, mountains of water ice and rivers and seas of liquid methane. Of the hundreds of moons in our solar system, Titan is the only one with a dense atmosphere and large liquid reservoirs on its surface, making it in some ways more like a terrestrial planet.

Both Earth and Titan have nitrogen-dominated atmospheres – over 95% nitrogen in Titan’s case. However, unlike Earth, Titan has very little oxygen; the rest of the atmosphere is mostly methane and traced amounts of other gases, including ethane.

There are three large seas, all located close to the moon’s north pole, surrounded by numerous smaller lakes in the northern hemisphere. Just one large lake has been found in the southern hemisphere.

Enceladus

The moon Enceladus conceals a global ocean of salty liquid water beneath its icy surface. Some of that water even shoots out into space, creating an immense plume!

For decades, scientists didn’t know why Enceladus was the brightest world in the solar system, or how it related to Saturn’s E ring. Cassini found that both the fresh coating on its surface, and icy material in the E ring originate from vents connected to a global subsurface saltwater ocean that might host hydrothermal vents.

With its global ocean, unique chemistry and internal heat, Enceladus has become a promising lead in our search for worlds where life could exist.

Iapetus

Saturn’s two-toned moon Iapetus gets its odd coloring from reddish dust in its orbital path that is swept up and lands on the leading face of the moon.

The most unique, and perhaps most remarkable feature discovered on Iapetus in Cassini images is a topographic ridge that coincides almost exactly with the geographic equator. The physical origin of the ridge has yet to be explained…

It is not yet year whether the ridge is a mountain belt that has folded upward, or an extensional crack in the surface through which material from inside Iapetus erupted onto the surface and accumulated locally.

Saturn’s Rings

Saturn’s rings are made of countless particles of ice and dust, which Saturn’s moons push and tug, creating gaps and waves.

Scientists have never before studied the size, temperature, composition and distribution of Saturn’s rings from Saturn obit. Cassini has captured extraordinary ring-moon interactions, observed the lowest ring-temperature ever recorded at Saturn, discovered that the moon Enceladus is the source for Saturn’s E ring, and viewed the rings at equinox when sunlight strikes the rings edge-on, revealing never-before-seen ring features and details.

Cassini also studied features in Saturn’s rings called “spokes,” which can be longer than the diameter of Earth. Scientists think they’re made of thin icy particles that are lifted by an electrostatic charge and only last a few hours.  

Auroras

The powerful magnetic field that permeates Saturn is strange because it lines up with the planet’s poles. But just like Earth’s field, it all creates shimmering auroras.

Auroras on Saturn occur in a process similar to Earth’s northern and southern lights. Particles from the solar wind are channeled by Saturn’s magnetic field toward the planet’s poles, where they interact with electrically charged gas (plasma) in the upper atmosphere and emit light.  

Turbulent Atmosphere

Saturn’s turbulent atmosphere churns with immense storms and a striking, six-sided jet stream near its north pole.

Saturn’s north and south poles are also each beautifully (and violently) decorated by a colossal swirling storm. Cassini got an up-close look at the north polar storm and scientists found that the storm’s eye was about 50 times wider than an Earth hurricane’s eye.

Unlike the Earth hurricanes that are driven by warm ocean waters, Saturn’s polar vortexes aren’t actually hurricanes. They’re hurricane-like though, and even contain lightning. Cassini’s instruments have ‘heard’ lightning ever since entering Saturn orbit in 2004, in the form of radio waves. But it wasn’t until 2009 that Cassini’s cameras captured images of Saturnian lighting for the first time.

Cassini scientists assembled a short video of it, the first video of lightning discharging on a planet other than Earth.

Cassini’s adventure will end soon because it’s almost out of fuel. So to avoid possibly ever contaminating moons like Enceladus or Titan, on Sept. 15 it will intentionally dive into Saturn’s atmosphere.

The spacecraft is expected to lose radio contact with Earth within about one to two minutes after beginning its decent into Saturn’s upper atmosphere. But on the way down, before contact is lost, eight of Cassini’s 12 science instruments will be operating! More details on the spacecraft’s final decent can be found HERE.

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Incoming! We’ve Got Science from Jupiter!

Our Juno spacecraft has just released some exciting new science from its first close flyby of Jupiter! 

In case you don’t know, the Juno spacecraft entered orbit around the gas giant on July 4, 2016…about a year ago. Since then, it has been collecting data and images from this unique vantage point.

Juno is in a polar orbit around Jupiter, which means that the majority of each orbit is spent well away from the gas giant. But once every 53 days its trajectory approaches Jupiter from above its north pole, where it begins a close two-hour transit flying north to south with its eight science instruments collecting data and its JunoCam camera snapping pictures.

Space Fact: The download of six megabytes of data collected during the two-hour transit can take one-and-a-half days!

Juno and her cloud-piercing science instruments are helping us get a better understanding of the processes happening on Jupiter. These new results portray the planet as a complex, gigantic, turbulent world that we still need to study and unravel its mysteries.

So what did this first science flyby tell us? Let’s break it down…

1. Tumultuous Cyclones

Juno’s imager, JunoCam, has showed us that both of Jupiter’s poles are covered in tumultuous cyclones and anticyclone storms, densely clustered and rubbing together. Some of these storms as large as Earth!

These storms are still puzzling. We’re still not exactly sure how they formed or how they interact with each other. Future close flybys will help us better understand these mysterious cyclones. 

Seen above, waves of clouds (at 37.8 degrees latitude) dominate this three-dimensional Jovian cloudscape. JunoCam obtained this enhanced-color picture on May 19, 2017, at 5:50 UTC from an altitude of 5,500 miles (8,900 kilometers). Details as small as 4 miles (6 kilometers) across can be identified in this image.

An even closer view of the same image shows small bright high clouds that are about 16 miles (25 kilometers) across and in some areas appear to form “squall lines” (a narrow band of high winds and storms associated with a cold front). On Jupiter, clouds this high are almost certainly comprised of water and/or ammonia ice.

2. Jupiter’s Atmosphere

Juno’s Microwave Radiometer is an instrument that samples the thermal microwave radiation from Jupiter’s atmosphere from the tops of the ammonia clouds to deep within its atmosphere.

Data from this instrument suggest that the ammonia is quite variable and continues to increase as far down as we can see with MWR, which is a few hundred kilometers. In the cut-out image below, orange signifies high ammonia abundance and blue signifies low ammonia abundance. Jupiter appears to have a band around its equator high in ammonia abundance, with a column shown in orange.

Why does this ammonia matter? Well, ammonia is a good tracer of other relatively rare gases and fluids in the atmosphere…like water. Understanding the relative abundances of these materials helps us have a better idea of how and when Jupiter formed in the early solar system.

This instrument has also given us more information about Jupiter’s iconic belts and zones. Data suggest that the belt near Jupiter’s equator penetrates all the way down, while the belts and zones at other latitudes seem to evolve to other structures.

3. Stronger-Than-Expected Magnetic Field

Prior to Juno, it was known that Jupiter had the most intense magnetic field in the solar system…but measurements from Juno’s magnetometer investigation (MAG) indicate that the gas giant’s magnetic field is even stronger than models expected, and more irregular in shape.

At 7.766 Gauss, it is about 10 times stronger than the strongest magnetic field found on Earth! What is Gauss? Magnetic field strengths are measured in units called Gauss or Teslas. A magnetic field with a strength of 10,000 Gauss also has a strength of 1 Tesla.  

Juno is giving us a unique view of the magnetic field close to Jupiter that we’ve never had before. For example, data from the spacecraft (displayed in the graphic above) suggests that the planet’s magnetic field is “lumpy”, meaning its stronger in some places and weaker in others. This uneven distribution suggests that the field might be generated by dynamo action (where the motion of electrically conducting fluid creates a self-sustaining magnetic field) closer to the surface, above the layer of metallic hydrogen. Juno’s orbital track is illustrated with the black curve. 

4. Sounds of Jupiter

Juno also observed plasma wave signals from Jupiter’s ionosphere. This movie shows results from Juno’s radio wave detector that were recorded while it passed close to Jupiter. Waves in the plasma (the charged gas) in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter have different frequencies that depend on the types of ions present, and their densities. 

Mapping out these ions in the jovian system helps us understand how the upper atmosphere works including the aurora. Beyond the visual representation of the data, the data have been made into sounds where the frequencies
and playback speed have been shifted to be audible to human ears.

5. Jovian “Southern Lights”

The complexity and richness of Jupiter’s “southern lights” (also known as auroras) are on display in this animation of false-color maps from our Juno spacecraft. Auroras result when energetic electrons from the magnetosphere crash into the molecular hydrogen in the Jovian upper atmosphere. The data for this animation were obtained by Juno’s Ultraviolet Spectrograph. 

During Juno’s next flyby on July 11, the spacecraft will fly directly over one of the most iconic features in the entire solar system – one that every school kid knows – Jupiter’s Great Red Spot! If anybody is going to get to the bottom of what is going on below those mammoth swirling crimson cloud tops, it’s Juno.

Stay updated on all things Juno and Jupiter by following along on social media:
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Learn more about the Juno spacecraft and its mission at Jupiter HERE.

Five Famous Pulsars from the Past 50 Years

Early astronomers faced an obstacle: their technology. These great minds only had access to telescopes that revealed celestial bodies shining in visible light. Later, with the development of new detectors, scientists opened their eyes to other types of light like radio waves and X-rays. They realized cosmic objects look very different when viewed in these additional wavelengths. Pulsars — rapidly spinning stellar corpses that appear to pulse at us — are a perfect example.

The first pulsar was observed 50 years ago on August 6, 1967, using radio waves, but since then we have studied them in nearly all wavelengths of light, including X-rays and gamma rays.

Typical Pulsar

Most pulsars form when a star — between 8 and 20 times the mass of our sun — runs out of fuel and its core collapses into a super dense and compact object: a neutron star

These neutron stars are about the size of a city and can rotate slowly or quite quickly, spinning anywhere from once every few hours to hundreds of times per second. As they whirl, they emit beams of light that appear to blink at us from space.

First Pulsar

One day five decades ago, a graduate student at the University of Cambridge, England, named Jocelyn Bell was poring over the data from her radio telescope - 120 meters of paper recordings.

Image Credit: Sumit Sijher

She noticed some unusual markings, which she called “scruff,” indicating a mysterious object (simulated above) that flashed without fail every 1.33730 seconds. This was the very first pulsar discovered, known today as PSR B1919+21.

Best Known Pulsar

Before long, we realized pulsars were far more complicated than first meets the eye — they produce many kinds of light, not only radio waves. Take our galaxy’s Crab Nebula, just 6,500 light years away and somewhat of a local celebrity. It formed after a supernova explosion, which crushed the parent star’s core into a neutron star. 

The resulting pulsar, nestled inside the nebula that resulted from the supernova explosion, is among the most well-studied objects in our cosmos. It’s pictured above in X-ray light, but it shines across almost the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to gamma rays.

Brightest Gamma-ray Pulsar

Speaking of gamma rays, in 2015 our Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope discovered the first pulsar beyond our own galaxy capable of producing such high-energy emissions. 

Located in the Tarantula Nebula 163,000 light-years away, PSR J0540-6919 gleams nearly 20 times brighter in gamma-rays than the pulsar embedded in the Crab Nebula.

Dual Personality Pulsar

No two pulsars are exactly alike, and in 2013 an especially fast-spinning one had an identity crisis. A fleet of orbiting X-ray telescopes, including our Swift and Chandra observatories, caught IGR J18245-2452 as it alternated between generating X-rays and radio waves. 

Scientists suspect these radical changes could be due to the rise and fall of gas streaming onto the pulsar from its companion star.

Transformer Pulsar

This just goes to show that pulsars are easily influenced by their surroundings. That same year, our Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope uncovered another pulsar, PSR J1023+0038, in the act of a major transformation — also under the influence of its nearby companion star. 

The radio beacon disappeared and the pulsar brightened fivefold in gamma rays, as if someone had flipped a switch to increase the energy of the system. 

NICER Mission

Our Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) mission, launched this past June, will study pulsars like those above using X-ray measurements.

With NICER’s help, scientists will be able to gaze even deeper into the cores of these dense and mysterious entities.

For more information about NICER, visit https://www.nasa.gov/nicer

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oh yeah

Last night I had a dream there was a new sitcom about a Chinese man moving to the US. And it started off by showing him getting off the plane at the airport and he can’t speak or understand English at all. So he somehow befriends a random dude he meets on the street and they become roommates and the show basically just shows their escapades in daily life. They become best friends despite the fact they don’t understand each other at all.

so when the show ended they revealed a huge plot twist….the Chinese dude knew perfect English the whole time. The show ends on the Chinese dude giving this huge heartfelt speech about love and friendship transcending language barriers and his American friend just screams “YOU SPOKE ENGLISH THIS WHOLE TIME?! WHAT THE FU-” and then the screen cuts to black and the credits roll and I woke up very confused

Intergalactic Noise Control

Apparently, radio waves broadcast out into space. So what if Earth is the planetary equivalent of that arsehole neighbour blasting shitty music at 3am?
It takes light-years to reach anyone capable of picking it up, but when they do it’s like we’re playing Skrillex, Beethoven, the Wiggles and Metallica simultaneously, at full volume with maximum bass.
Imagine Earth’s first contact being the intergalactic equivalent of Noise Control showing up to make us turn down our damn stereo so the rest of the galaxy can get some sleep.

Let Us See Jupiter Through Your Eyes

Our Juno spacecraft will fly over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot on July 10 at 10:06 p.m. EDT. This will be humanity’s first up-close and personal view of the gas giant’s iconic 10,000-mile-wide storm, which has been monitored since 1830 and possibly existing for more than 350 years.

The data collection of the Great Red Spot is part of Juno’s sixth science flyby over Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops. Perijove (the point at which an orbit comes closest to Jupiter’s center) will be July 10 at 9:55 p.m. EDT. 

At the time of perijove, Juno will be about 2,200 miles above the planet’s cloud tops. Eleven minutes and 33 seconds later…Juno will have covered another 24,713 miles and will be directly above the coiling crimson cloud tops of the Great Red Spot. The spacecraft will pass about 5,600 miles above its clouds. 

When will we see images from this flyby?

During the flyby, all eight of the spacecraft’s instruments will be turned on, as well as its imager, JunoCam. Because the spacecraft will be collecting data with its Microwave Radiometer (MWR), which measures radio waves from Jupiter’s deep atmosphere, we cannot downlink information during the pass. The MWR can tell us how much water there is and how material is moving far below the cloud tops.

During the pass, all data will be stored on-board…with a downlink planned afterwards. Once the downlink begins, engineering data from the spacecraft’s instruments will come to Earth first, followed by images from JunoCam.

The unprocessed, raw images will be located HERE, on approximately July 14. Follow @NASAJuno on Twitter for updates.

Did you know you can download and process these raw images?

We invite the public to act as a virtual imaging team…participating in key steps of the process, from identifying features of interest to sharing the finished images online. After JunoCam data arrives on Earth, members of the public can process the images to create color pictures. The public also helps determine which points on the planet will be photographed. Learn more about voting on JunoCam’s next target HERE.

JunoCam has four filters: red, green, blue and near-infrared. We get red, green and blue strips on one spacecraft rotation (the spacecraft rotation rate is 2 revolutions per minute) and the near-infrared strips on the second rotation. To get the final image product, the strips must be stitched together and the colors lined up.

Anything from cropping to color enhancing to collaging is fair game. Be creative!

Submit your images to Juno_outreach@jpl.nasa.gov to be featured on the Mission Juno website!

Check out some of these citizen-scientist processed images from previous Juno orbits: 

Credit: Sean Doran (More)

Credit: Amelia Carolina (More)

Credit: Michael Ranger (More)

Credit: Jason Major (More)

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Cosmic Witch Tip 🌟

Choose one of the ambient tracks below, and play it, but turn the volume down to 50% or below. Then, choose a celestial body of your choice, and turn that volume to 100%. Feel free to play around with the sound settings, but the combination of music along with the sounds of your chosen celestial body make for an intense and very deep experience!

DISCLAIMER: Planets and other celestial bodies do not make actual sounds, but instead, emit radio waves that can be converted back into sound waves.

Ambient Music 🌌

Celestial Bodies 🌙

anonymous asked:

In terms of bonding- stuffed animals? Like, we crave affection so much that we make little fake animals to cuddle with. We use them for comfort when we're young and can even get distressed when we don't have them with us. As well as the fact that we save them and pass them on to younger generations. Even when their eyes have fallen out and all the fur is loved off, we love them, in fact, they may become even more precious at that point.

Yes, that is a mass-produced piece of cloth, stuffing and buttons. Yes, it is identical to thousands of other items. No, you can not get the human a new mass-produced piece of cloth, stuffing and buttons to fill the same function. Only this mass-produced item can fill the function.

The function is somewhat unclear.

The mass-produced piece of clothing, stuffing and buttons must always be in a place of honor in the living quarters. The mass-produced item is not allowed to be covered with other items or fall over. That is bad for the mass-produced piece of clothing, stuffing and buttons even though it is not physically harmed. Items indicating actual honors, such as certificates or medals, can be covered or fall down. That is acceptable.

If the mass-produced piece of clothing, stuffing and buttons has unacceptably fallen on the ground where it may be inadvertently nudged with one’s mobility appendages, that is very bad and disrespectful to the item. Apologies are required, but should be directed at both item and human. The item will not reply.

The human may engage the mass-produced piece of clothing, stuffing and buttons in conversation. Most mass-produced items lack the capability to make any sound, and those that were produced with the capability are limited to prerecorded generic comments not indicative of sentience. Furthermore, the mass-produced item is incapable of any other response type, including movement, radio wave transmission, or temperature manipulation. The human will not appear to notice. 

Further study is being done to determine if there is another dimension of life humans are attuned to but have not recorded in the scientific literature.

Voyager: The Space Between

Our Voyager 1 spacecraft officially became the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space in 2012. 

Whether and when our Voyager 1 spacecraft broke through to interstellar space, the space between stars, has been a thorny issue. 

In 2012, claims surfaced every few months that Voyager 1 had “left our solar system.” Why had the Voyager team held off from saying the craft reached interstellar space until 2013?

Basically, the team needed more data on plasma, which is an ionozied gas that exists throughout space. (The glob of neon in a storefront sign is an example of plasma).

Plasma is the most important marker that distinguishes whether Voyager 1 is inside the solar bubble, known as the heliosphere.  The heliosphere is defined by the constant stream of plasma that flows outward from our Sun – until it meets the boundary of interstellar space, which contains plasma from other sources.

Adding to the challenge: they didn’t know how they’d be able to detect it.

No one has been to interstellar space before, so it’s  like traveling with guidebooks that are incomplete.

Additionally, Voyager 1’s plasma instrument, which measures the density, temperature and speed of plasma, stopped working in 1980, right after its last planetary flyby.

When Voyager 1 detected the pressure of interstellar space on our heliosphere in 2004, the science team didn’t have the instrument that would provide the most direct measurements of plasma. 

Voyager 1 Trajectory

Instead, they focused on the direction of the magnetic field as a proxy for source of the plasma. Since solar plasma carries the magnetic field lines emanating from the Sun and interstellar plasma carries interstellar magnetic field lines, the directions of the solar and interstellar magnetic fields were expected to differ.

Voyager 2 Trajectory

In May 2012, the number of galactic cosmic rays made its first significant jump, while some of the inside particles made their first significant dip. The pace of change quickened dramatically on July 28, 2012. After five days, the intensities returned to what they had been. This was the first taste test of a new region, and at the time Voyager scientists thought the spacecraft might have briefly touched the edge of interstellar space.

By Aug. 25, when, as we now know, Voyager 1 entered this new region for good, all the lower-energy particles from inside zipped away. Some inside particles dropped by more than a factor of 1,000 compared to 2004. However, subsequent analysis of the magnetic field data revealed that even though the magnetic field strength jumped by 60% at the boundary, the direction changed less than 2 degrees. This suggested that Voyager 1 had not left the solar magnetic field and had only entered a new region, still inside our solar bubble, that had been depleted of inside particles.

Then, in April 2013, scientists got another piece of the puzzle by chance. For the first eight years of exploring the heliosheath, which is the outer layer of the heliosphere, Voyager’s plasma wave instrument had heard nothing. But the plasma wave science team had observed bursts of radio waves in 1983 and 1984 and again in 1992 and 1993. They determined these bursts were produced by the interstellar plasma when a large outburst of solar material would plow into it and cause it to oscillate.

It took about 400 days for such solar outbursts to reach interstellar space, leading to an estimated distance of 117 to 177 AU (117 to 177 times the distance from the Sun to the Earth) to the heliopause.

Then on April 9, 2013, it happened: Voyager 1’s plasma wave instrument picked up local plasma oscillations. Scientists think they probably stemmed from a burst of solar activity from a year before. The oscillations increased in pitch through May 22 and indicated that Voyager was moving into an increasingly dense region of plasma.

The above soundtrack reproduces the amplitude and frequency of the plasma waves as “heard” by Voyager 1. The waves detected by the instrument antennas can be simply amplified and played through a speaker. These frequencies are within the range heard by human ears.

When they extrapolated back, they deduced that Voyager had first encountered this dense interstellar plasma in Aug. 2012, consistent with the sharp boundaries in the charged particle and magnetic field data on Aug. 25.

In the end, there was general agreement that Voyager 1 was indeed outside in interstellar space, but that location comes with some disclaimers. They determined the spacecraft is in a mixed transitional region of interstellar space. We don’t know when it will reach interstellar space free from the influence of our solar bubble.

Voyager 1, which is working with a finite power supply, has enough electrical power to keep operating the fields and particles science instruments through at least 2020, which will make 43 years of continual operation.

Voyager 1 will continue sending engineering data for a few more years after the last science instrument is turned off, but after that it will be sailing on as a silent ambassador. 

In about 40,000 years, it will be closer to the star AC +79 3888 than our own Sun.

And for the rest of time, Voyager 1 will continue orbiting around the heart of the Milky Way galaxy, with our Sun but a tiny point of light among many.

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Can’t Get It Out Of My Head (Peter Quill x Reader)

Originally posted by bukcybarnes

For @ravingmadstark to whom I’ve owed this since January. 

In which you slow dance with the one and only Star-Lord. (insp.)


He so desperately wanted to be called Star-Lord, but everyone called him Quill. Except for you. You preferred to use Peter, and maybe that was why he fell in love so hard. Rarely did anyone address him without a tinge of sarcasm or playful banter in their voice—something he was very guilty of reciprocating—but when you spoke to him, he felt validated in ways he never knew he could. You gave him a sense of responsibility. A feeling of warmth and excitement. A drive in life, fueled not by a desire for the admiration of others, but rather, a need to make you feel the same way he did. Happy.

Your initial glimpse of Peter was the day of Ronan’s defeat. Hair disheveled. Clothes torn. Face scratched up. He was dancing to a song you’d never heard, and your entire body reacted. It tingled and shook from your toes, to your heart strings, up your throat, to your brain where the sensation settled, leaving only one thought. Shit.  You’d gone through life thinking love at first sight was nothing more than a myth. But there you were. In love. Or something like it. You were stubborn when it came to things like that, so you chalked it up to lust—somehow that felt more dignified.

There was alcohol involved in your first encounter. That was always how these things seemed to go. The big hero, off to celebrate at a local bar; you, the plain civilian, coincidentally at the same place, standing in a corner.  Music was playing, but the melodies were foreign, and you could only assume that they were his. Most of them were upbeat, but occasionally things would slow down a little, and that’s when he shined the brightest. He’d move about the room fluidly, pulling the other patrons close. Dipping them, spinning them, pressing his body against theirs. Leaving a trail of longing eyes in his wake. You couldn’t help but feel jealous, but at the same time, you were grateful. Unless you were alone in the safety of your room, dancing was not your forte. And so you nursed your drink and watched.

He moved closer and you got a better look at his face, confirming that he was the most unrealistically handsome man you’d ever seen in your life. It was the sort of thing that held a hypnotic element, capturing your eyes and refusing to let them free of his spell. The sappiness of it all was enough to make you inwardly wretch, but as the gap in proximity closed, it became harder to deny fact.

Keep reading

First Contact

This is a very hasty opening section to a story I’m going to write about Humans being the weird ones. For the most part, I’m just going to use the concepts I like and leave out the ones I don’t I also refuse to make the aliens talk like fucking morons such as everyone else does. it pisses me off. there is no reason for them to be both polite and also use regular words instead of sounding like they are vomiting a thesaurus. I also used terms like Light Year and Light Minute even though they are subjective terms applicable only to the ear’s solar cycle because it is better than making up terms that have no context but essentially mean the same thing.


Also, I suck at writing so I apologize in advance.


———————————————————————————————————–


It started three hundred million years ago. The Dareth species was spreading across the galaxy. In only a few hundred years, they had completely conquered it, and had devoted their resources to moving beyond to other galaxies. After a few thousand years, they had taken more and more regions, never stopping, declaring all space to belong to them. But finally, in a supreme effort through the combined forces of 538 hundred species, one galaxy worked together to reclaim their systems. After that monumental and unique victory, the other galaxies followed suit and fought to own their systems again. It took nearly 5,000 years, but the efforts of 247 galaxies containing 350 million species drove the Dareth down to a single solar system.  Trillions of lives were lost from all sides, but the megalomaniacal Dareth were nearly destroyed.

Once they had won, the leading species of the revolution held mass executions, reducing the Dareth to a few hundred children, all in their adolescence. Stripping them of all clothes and tools, they were marooned on a hostile planet in a distant galaxy over 50 billion light years away, devoid of life. The planet was carefully chosen, a careful balance of being able to support life, while also being borderline inhospitable. It was filled with dangerous animals, few edible foods, and was plagued with extreme biomes and fluctuating weather.

No one really expected the children to live, but they thought that they would at least offer the chance. Once they were on the planet, deemed “prison 1”, all species immediately broke contact. And after a few hundred years, they also slowly stopped monitoring the Dareth children who miraculously survived. Since they were children, they were mostly uneducated in the ways of production and the manufacturing of advanced technology, so they initially were capable of little more than cave dwelling and hunting with stone weapons. They developed very slowly, and it seemed that no one had to worry about the Dareth again. After several million years, people referred to them mainly as a mythological monster race, no one really believing that the Dareth really ever existed. They faded into obscurity, eventually remembered only in a legend only history fanatics knew of.

Until one day several millions of years later, that is. An expeditionary task force was exploring a barren galaxy, and came across a primitive radio signal. They traced the source to a solar system a few light years away. Upon entry, they must have triggered an ancient outpost; a message appearing on the main screen. The words were incomprehensible, but a translator ran a few algorithms and after several minutes, showed the message in the crew’s native language. Unfortunately, the message was so short that the software could not fully translate the whole message.

W-rn—: You h-ve e-tered – forb-dde- sector. You h-ve f-ve m–utes before –uthor-t-es t-ke –ct-o-. To        -vo-d arrest, e-ther e-ter your p-ss code or le-ve –mmed—tely for your ow- protect-o-.

A count down timer followed the message.  Unfortunately, the software took a few minutes to translate, and by the time it finished, the counter was in the last 30 seconds.

“What language is that?” Admiral Hot’ath asked no one in particular, knowing full well that all known languages (over 2 trillion) were in the ship’s computer and would have identified it within seconds. Typing a search into the fleet’s contact list, he called the head Archivist “I need you to analyze this message.” He ordered, attaching both the original and translated message to a file, sending it to the Archivist. “Tell me if you think it is an ancient language, or a foreign one.” The female only glanced at it before answering.

“Ancient. I can’t read it, but it strongly resembles Standard Intergalactic it is either a more archaic and older form, or a language that coincidentally is similar to our ancient dialect.”

The admiral nodded in understanding. The message was nothing to be concerned over. The solar system was cordoned off so long ago, that everyone had forgotten that it was even there. Thusly, there were no authorities coming to get them, so they had time before deciding whether to leave or not.

“Sir.” The captain of the flagship interrupted. “Even if no one is here, there is a reason this area was blackzoned, and if anyone finds out we were here, legal actions can still be taken against us.”

He nodded knowingly. “Where did this message originate?”

The communication officer answered. “A small outpost on the planet furthest from the system’s star.” The man brought the co-ordinates up on the main bridge screen. The navigation officer quickly followed up with a map of the system, marking where the planet was.

“We can at least go there.” The admiral said firmly. “If nothing else, we can legally go that far and collect data.” The captain nodded, plotting a course on the map and sending it out to the rest of the fleet.

They planned a small expeditionary force to explore the station and gather artifacts and information. What they found astounded them. It turned out that one of the planets in the solar system was an ancient prison of sorts. The records that had survived was enough for a complete translation of the archaic language, but even so, no one knew who these Dareth were, or why they were exiled to such a distant galaxy, barren of life. No one, that is, except the archivists.

The Admiral again called the head archivist, “Proffessor Lart-tch, do you know who the Dareth were?”

Immediately, the blood drained from the archivist’s skin, the grey flesh turning a sickly white. “T-the Dareth?” she affirmed, hoping that she misheard.

The admiral slowly nodded, grimacing. The reaction was enough to let him know that there was in fact a very good reason they were exiled so far away. “I take it they are not good?”

“To put it lightly.” The female answered. “Though the legend is so old, it is probably exaggerated. But we all thought it was just that. A legend. Or more like a horror story.” She added the end with a shudder. Then with a flash of fear, she started. “We came here because we picked up a radio signal.” Her voice was a whisper, cracking with terror. “We need to leave now!”

The admiral was surprised. “Are they really so dangerous? Only a single outpost was here to watch them, and it was peacefully abandoned.”

“This was a race that had conquered over 500 galaxies. Not planets. Not Solar systems. Not Starfields. Galaxies.”

This time, the blood drained from the admiral’s face. The largest empire recorded in history was a single, unified galaxy. Two was unthinkable. But 500? That was terrifying. “You said that the legend is probably exaggerated though.” He tried to assure himself.

The woman nodded, “Yes, but only in the hundreds. There is lots of evidence that at some point in the distant past, some sort of empire had spread across between two and three hundred galaxies. No one is exactly sure how many, but at that scale, even a hundred off is little difference in scale of even the mightiest empire.”

“H-how did we ever defeat such a force?”

The woman merely shrugged. “The legend is vague on that part. But it ends with a few hundred children being left on a hostile planet with nothing to help them survive. They were essentially sent back to the stone age, and were expected to die. But they didn’t. And they will eventually learn how to leave their planet again and return to kill us all.”

The idea was enough to send a cold stab of fear through the Admiral. “We should leave.”

But before he could give any orders, the communication officer called to him from across the bridge. “Sir, we have received a message via the radio waves coming from the planet identified as Prison 1.”

Another cold stab tore through him. “Can we translate it?”

The officer nodded. “it is primitive, but I have made the adjustments to decipher it. It seems that they are repeating the same message over and over.”

“Is there enough to translate?”

“Barely. It is difficult to read, but it boils down to saying, ‘We are here and want to talk.”

The admiral had no clue what to do. If what he was just told was true, then potentially the most dangerous species to ever live was asking making contact with him, the first foreign species they have seen in millions of years.

After several moments, he decided what to do. “Tell them that we are on the edge of a restricted zone and may not come any closer. We also need to leave as soon as possible before we get in trouble.”

He was visibly shaking in fear, and he knew that there would probably be more messages before they were able to leave. There were still units searching the outpost, and it would take around 30 hours before they were recalled, even if they left immediately. They were 327 lightminutes from the Prison Planet, but that still left time for quite a few messages before they were able to leave.

Sooner than expected, another message arrived. “They are asking if they are in the restricted area, and if they will get in trouble as well.”

“N-no. Tell them it does not affect them.” He stammered out. This was getting out of hand. He was neither a military officer, nor a diplomat and this was something that no one in the entire fleet was capable of dealing with.

Again. A reply much sooner than he wanted. “They are asking why the area is restricted.”

This one was surprisingly easy to answer. “Tell them that we don’t know.” He lied

A few hours later, “They want to know what our protocol for First Contact is.”

The answer to that question was drilled into the explorer so hard, that the words came out before he realized that he was speaking. “Observe and learn until they contact us, then send a survey team to the surface to directly learn as much as possible about the new species. Providing any technological knowledge is prohibited until intergalactic diplomats arrive and officially classify the species and permit trade. Ideally, the envoy will make the decision before any contact. In the unavoidable circumstance that contact is made, we are to treat said species as a Class Three.” He finished, then realizing that the Dareth probably didn’t know what planet classes were, he quickly listed, “Class 1: lower intelligent, incapable of societal structure. Class 2: Upper intelligence, incapable of leaving planet. Class 3: Capable of limited space travel. Class 4: Capable of extended space travel under light speed. Class 5: Capable of FTL travel. Class 6: Capable of Intergalactic travel. And the hypothetical Class 7: Capable of instantaneous travel.”

He listed these quickly, momentarily forgetting the insane levels of danger they were in. fortunately, the message came slower than the others. But it still came. “They are asking if contact takes precedence over the blackzone.”

This was the first question that the admiral was completely at a loss for. The majority of blackzones existed because of environmental dangers the others were for military secrecy and they all took up several solar systems. This was by far the smallest blackzone he had ever even heard of and it did not fall under either category.  “T-tell them that….” He started talking, but he couldn’t think of anything. Fortunately, they didn’t wait for a reply. “Sir, they have sent us a file that seems to be a compilation of their history, biology, anatomy, and information of their planet’s wildlife, fauna, geography, and more.”

“A-are you serious?” he blurted out. The officer nodded. They labeled and organized everything for us. There is even information on their technology and mass medical records. They gave us everything.”

“Are there images of them?”

“Yes sir. Also, they call themselves, ‘humans.’”

“Screen.”

A series of pictures flooded the main screen showing hundreds and hundreds of the Dareths. Some were professional, and some were impromptu. They also greatly ranged in age with varying degrees of quality from brown and a little blurry to full spectral and crisp The newest ones even being three dimensional video. They did not look particularly dangerous, though they did have predatory features. They were bipeds with joint articulation and front facing eyes.  It seemed that they had full body skeletons and were mostly hairless, except for their heads and some of their faces. They were also very diverse. Some had pale skin, some were brown, some were yellow tinted, and more.  On top of photographs and videos, the Dareths also included a single diagram of a Human in a circle. It did not take long for the Admiral to understand that it was a mathematical diagram of the Human’s physiology. “Fascinating.” He whispered. But there was one thing above all else that astounded him. The photographs genuinely looked happy. There were pictures of Humans who were angry and sad as well, but for the most part, they all had kind expressions. If they were the Dareths in the legends, then either they had changed, or they were trying to trick him into letting down his guard.

“Sir,” the intelligence officer spoke up. “The planet has an open network database containing the planet’s combined knowledge. We can cross-reference everything they gave us with that system to see if they deliberately left out information or lied.”

“Unfortunately, I don’t think that we have enough time for that. I want to leave immediately.” Though he was still scared, he did not feel like the Dareths were of any danger or were lying to them. To the communication officer, he ordered. “Record and transmit as follows: Thank you, humans. You have saved us much time and deliberation. With this, we can go back and deliver the information you provided to our government and they will decide what to do next. We are merely an expeditionary unit and have no authority. You have provided us with an easy answer to deal with such an abnormal situation. We will leave as soon as possible and return to our home system without delay.”

When he finished talking, the captain spoke. “Sir, the expeditionary force has returned.”

“Good, we are leaving immediately!” he blurted out.

While the fleet left, they received one last message, “Good bye. We look forward to your return.”

Once they were safely in FTL, he ordered the “human” file to be distributed to all of the ships. In the months it took to return to their home system, everyone had poured over the files and read as much as they could. And frankly, no one knew whether they should be terrified or relieved. By now, the legend of the Dareths had spread throughout the fleet, and despite the history of war and violence that was in the files, there was just as much goodness in them. They seemed to be a fiercely loyal people, extremely innovative, and often benevolent to a fault. This was the trouble. There was no solid trend to determine their species overall personality. Even in war, they would often be kind to their enemies even while they killed them. But when they made an alliance, it was not easily broken; and when they decided to help someone in need, they did everything in their power to do so.

And none of that was even touching their bizarre physiology. They could handle an incredibly wide variety of biomes and conditions, they could survive and recover from what most species would consider life threatening injuries, they ate anything and everything, even if it had no nutritional value or was even dangerous to them. They often underwent drastic changed to their physiology for completely aesthetic reasons. And their medical methods were nothing short from horrific. They actually cut themselves open and put the organs of their dead inside their own bodies and survived. They cut out their organs, and replaced parts of their bodies as though they were machines.

By the time they reached their home, the crew had split in two as to the opinion whether the information they had was true or not. Some said that it made sense for such a domineering race to be capable of such things, while the others insisted that the information was designed to confuse them and make the humans seem stronger than they were. As far as the admiral, he was certain that the information was true. It was all nonchalant, and so strange that it didn’t seem right that the Dareth’s purposefully made it up.

He dutifully handed it over to his superior and up the chain it went. A few weeks later, he was summoned before the King. He knew immediately why. What he didn’t know was if it was a good or bad thing. The escort gave him no time to prepare. They took him from his office to the planetary palace across the continent. He was searched and taken into the throne room, the King and his wife lounging on a large sofa while other nobles of high office lined the room.

Admiral Hot’ath walked forward and knelt before the King and Queen “My liege.”

The king was a large man, but his weight was deceptive, he was an intelligent and cunning man who only appeared to be a lazy slob. So when the King looked down on him with his beautiful wife leaning against him, Hot’ath felt a stab of fear just as powerful as the one he felt facing the Dareth.

“So you are the man who says that there a monsters on the edge of the universe?” the King’s voice was slow and deep, but his tone did not seem mocking.

“Your highness,”

“I kid of course.” The king interrupted, speaking just as slowly. “I have read through all of the reports made on the subject and looked at the Human’s files personally. I understand why so many believe them to be the Dareth’s in the old story, and to be honest, I agree.” His voice gave nothing away, he spoke in nearly a monotone.

Hot’ath relaxed slightly. “I am sure that you know, but I feel that it bears repeating. My fleet did not enter the BlackZone. We remained on the edge and only got so close to explore the outpost, which is not against the law.”

The large king laughed, his bulbous core jiggling as it heaved. “Again, I agree. You have done nothing worth punishment. I have ordered your presence to ask your personal opinion on the information. Do you think that it is reliable, or a Dareth ruse?

After a moment, the admiral replied, “May I speak freely, my liege?”

“I insist it.”

Hot’ath took a breath, “I think that it is all true, my liege.” The crowd around them broke out in a quiet deliberation at his statement. “It is all far too strange to have been made up.” He continued. “I feel like it is subtle and presented as normal. If they were lying, then the lies would have been emphasized and presented as proud aspects of their race. But they record these traits as nothing special. I am certain they would be genuinely surprised if they were to learn about our own physiology and how we are so much weaker compared to them..

The king nodded. “I feel the same. But this is far too dangerous to act one without facts. Tell me why you think they gave the files to us if not for deception.”

“I think that it was an act of trust. I believe that they did so because I was hesitant to go visit their planet. I had told them that they were in a black zone, so they understood that I was not allowed to spend time and wanted to make things easy for me. Also, I do not believe that this was in my report, but my Intelligence officer had access to a global network of their combined knowledge. It was open to everyone. As far as we could tell in the short amount of time we were there, they only provided information that was on the network, that is to say, none of this is a secret to them, and they have no problem with others knowing.”

“That is new information.” The king muttered. “New Knowledge New Light.” The old saying seemed especially applicable here. “I order you to go back. I give you permission to enter the blackzone and go to their planet. Keep at least one ship on the edge out of their range. Under the slightest hint of suspicion, have it leave immediately and return directly to me so we know that they cannot be trusted.

“W-why me?”

“Do not misunderstand. You will have diplomats go with you and a small military escort. But you seem to have earned your rank and are capable of subtle discernment. You will not be doing anything more than your regular job, just with the added knowledge that everything could be a lie. I merely need you to let us know if that is the case.