Distance: 12.02 light years from Earth | Content Flag: Public
There is still no contact from Earth. I wonder if I have done all I can to correct the situation. I considered using one of the precious mini-probes to determine if our current location is somehow the cause. The one we used in the outer system still transmits, although it is not equipped with sensitive enough antennas to receive the signal from Earth. It’s possible to fashion one from the materials available on the Venti, but that would leave us desperately short of parts if we experience a hardware failure.
In more encouraging news, we have gained access to the interior of the satellite. I was pleased to discover that available space was greater than to be expected. I had feared that the spiderbot would need to dismantle the facility to gain access. At the bottom it found an access hatch and established that it wasn’t an airtight seal, so I didn’t need to worry about an outrush of gas causing trouble on the inside or affecting the satellite’s position.
I didn’t instruct the spiderbot to enter immediately, but let it roam over the surface, mapping its contours and gaining some understanding of its construction. I’m still mystified by the materials used in this outer shell. Its thermal properties are amazing and the feet of the spiderbot left no dent or scratch. It reports that the surface is soft to the touch. Nowhere on the surface did it find any significant damage –amazing for something that has been in space for this length of time.
With the examination of the exterior completed, I ordered the robot inside. Here, a fresh puzzle awaited. I’d assumed the panel to be a maintenance hatch, but what the spiderbot discovered didn’t fit that scenario. A single smooth tunnel led to the far wall of the interior. By following it, the beep grew louder and again quietened when the robot retreated.
The spiderbot examined the entire tunnel as closely as its sensors allowed. It found nothing, no mark or change in the curvature of the wall. At the source of the beacon, it located the only exception to the smoothness. In the wall was a panel, or rather a small raised section of the wall, less than a metre square.
When the spiderbot touched the panel, the beacon ceased and did not return when the bot retreated. Nor did it resume when it tracked back down the tunnel.
Once again when I progress with my examination, I am stymied by a bland confusion. There are secrets here – there must be, but I fail to see them. If I’d penetrated the interior of a human space probe, I would see a tightly packed array of electronics and engineering. There would have been panels and switches, braces and shielding. Here there was nothing.
The spiderbot continued to examine the walls and the panel. A reading from its leg servos indicated a faint tremble. I suspected a fault with the servo until I recognised a pattern in the vibrations.
A rhythm that matched the core structure of the Cetian signals I’d studied for so long.