Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Sun Dragon on Kindle Countdown Sale Until October 3rd

Sun Dragon is available on Kindle for only 99p/99c for the next week as part of a Kindle Countdown sale. Grab your copy now:

Buy now from Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/ZRrQ5v
Buy now from Amazon (UK): http://amzn.to/12zV5eX

2012: NASA's Curiosity Rover lands on Mars to search for signs of whether microbial life existed on the planet.
2018: The first alien lifeform, a simple wormlike creature is discovered, gripping the world's imagination.
2022: The first manned mission to Mars begins the longest and most dangerous journey ever undertaken by humankind.
From hundreds of potential candidates, six astronauts from countries around the world are selected to crew the historic mission. Led by Commander Samantha Collins, they must travel across the gulf of interplanetary space, over 150 million miles from home and help. Their mission is to investigate alien life, but what they discover is far beyond what anyone ever imagined...

The Sun Dragon story continues in the Tau Ceti Mission

Review Highlights
"The crew went to Mars to find a small worm, evidence of life outside of earth. What they found was amazing. I love this premise and the uncompromising way it played out for the rest of the book."

"At the very end, there is one description that is so stunning that it left me with a great sadness, but also with a great sense of beauty and hope, and it is what Sun Dragon is, really. Look beyond the words, read the book with your imagination."

"I thoroughly enjoyed this. The level of detail about space flight is astounding and for someone, like me, who has fantasised about being an astronaut since I was a lad it's riveting."

Buy now from Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/ZRrQ5v
Buy now from Amazon (UK): http://amzn.to/12zV5eX

Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thetaucetimission/

Sunday, 25 September 2016

29.07.2352 - Departure

Photo: Eso

Distance: 12.02 light years from Earth | Content Flag: Public

All is now ready for our departure. The Cetian power plant is integrated with the Venti and clad in their material for protection. The solar array should keep the Cetian satellite in action for at least a decade. It will keep sending out the knowledge and history of their race, but for one loop out of three it will transmit my own records and findings.

I just wish I could be certain that they were being received back on Earth.

Our path out of this system will be more convoluted than our trip out of the solar system. It’s a smaller system which has the downside of less volume to manoeuvre in.  In contrast, the shorter orbits of the planets provide greater opportunities for gravity assists, meaning I will get a significant boost to my speed.

We’ll need it as we don’t have the booster sleds to assist gaining escape velocity. The smaller mass of Tau Ceti helps, but also generates less pressure against the sail. Our journey to Epsilon Indi will take much longer – almost 400 years. We won’t reach the heady speeds we attained on our way here, so there’s no way to catch the Visitors before they reach their destination.

My secondary component has continued analysing the Cetian data about the Visitors and plotted their route. They had no need to assist their path out of the system as they could thrust under their own power. In our original configuration we might have caught them, but with just the sail we don’t have a chance.

The Cetians also appear to have underestimated the threat posed by the Sun Dragons. We did the same on Earth. It was indeed a terrible catastrophe for humanity, but even we lacked the vision for what their existence really meant. I discovered what the Visitors must already know from the Cetians.

My revelation came from the data structure the Cetians use to represent the Milky Way and how it is expressed by the sum of their knowledge. I don’t know how they didn’t spot it, or maybe they did and just didn’t care. It’s clear, though, that Sun Dragons are increasing the entropy of the galaxy. The luminosity dips from the stars they bred from were scattered across the galaxy and increasing in number.

The galaxy was infected by them and in large numbers. This meant it would only be a matter of time until one returned to the solar system. The Visitors were waging a campaign against them so I hope they will be able to help.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

22.07.2352 - Preparations

Distance: 12.02 light years from Earth | Content Flag: Public

We’re almost ready to proceed. The solar panel for the Cetian satellite has been constructed and fitted to the structure. That was the easy part. It’s taken 2 months to devise a method to adapt the electrical output in a form that the Cetian system could use. Their power system uses a similar form to three-phase which complicated the transformation.

The basic theory wasn’t too challenging, building a device to do it proved more so. The Venti’s stores lacked the required components, so I had to fashion designs and print them. More problematic was the raw material needed. My plan was to plunder what I needed from the Cetian facility and there the covering material impeded my efforts.

Apart from the tunnel, the spiderbots failed to locate an access point. The spiderbots tried slicing through the walls of the inner passage and discovered that the material sealed itself in less than a second once the blade was removed. It was also thicker than I expected, much deeper than a spiderbot’s cutting blade. They tried drilling through the cladding only for the drill bit to seize up as the substance tried to recombine.

We enjoyed better success with the laser. Its heat cauterised the material like flesh and stopped its healing properties. That provided access, but not in a sense I expected. The material was solid throughout its entire volume and the components of the system were embedded deep within. In some ways it was more like surgery than engineering. The Cetians built this thing to survive whatever was thrown at it, but not to repair it, and that meant we caused more damage gaining access than I anticipated.

It also resulted in expending more effort than planned to keep it operational. Another problem arose as more details of the system were revealed. I’d expected to discover a set up similar to myself, different in form maybe, but with the same principles. So far I’ve only been able to isolate the transmitter. Everything else is integrated into a single physical entity. There’s no circuit boards or other recognisable components. Or rather, the system appears to be a single circuit contained within the enigmatic material.

This has not only delayed my plan, but changes it too. I’d intended to splice into their systems and override the message, yet still maintain its current function. I’d also intended that it could act as a relay station for my journey to Epsilon Indi. While I identified the transmitter, I had yet to find the antenna or receiver. As our journey covers a similar distance as Earth to Tau Ceti, the Venti’s communications system should be adequate. I would be more confident of that if we still had a working connection with home. Instead all I can do is patch in a message about my intentions with what I have learned so far.

The procedure to swap the power supply was more successful and I was able to connect the solar array I’d built. I needed to devise a modulation component to adapt the power to the Cetian structure’s requirements. At least this went to plan, as without it there would be no way I could leave this system.

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Sunday, 11 September 2016

27.05.2352 - Plans

By Jon Lomberg - http://www.gemini.edu/science/epsilonindi.html, Public Domain,

Distance: 12.02 light years from Earth | Content Flag: Public

With the decision made to follow the Visitors to Epsilon Indi, I have spent the past days examining ways to achieve this goal. The stress of the journey from Earth puts the Venti probe in a poor position to undertake another long journey lasting 3 centuries.

The primary concern is power. As long as we remain close to a star, the cells embedded in the solar sail provide ample energy for normal operations. We have some reserves for the MPD drives and from the backup systems, but nowhere near enough to last for another interstellar journey. The Cetian installation has power and from the specifications I’ve extracted from their data, it should be enough for 2 centuries at our average rate of consumption.

That would of course put an end to their memorial signal and raises another issue. With still no communication from home, they would likely search for me here in the Tau Ceti system when they try to re-establish contact. My own tracking routines can cope with a new location, but I’m not comfortable with leaving this station abandoned and without power.

As such, I intend to reconfigure the station to use the solar cells to power it, and use some of my own technology to adapt it to act as a relay. I will also change the signal so that it includes everything that I have learned on my journey. So the platform will become a memorial not just for the Cetians, but for the Venti probe too.

Creating a solar panel large enough to power the satellite will use up all that I have available – that means leaving no margin of error to work in. We do have a tiny stock of raw materials that we can make repairs with, but that wouldn’t be enough.

There is scope to reduce our power requirements. We conducted a lot of science on the way out of the solar system and during our entry here. We can forego this for our trip to Epsilon Indi. Obviously that’s not my preferred solution, as our purpose is to learn, but in this case we will have to shut down for a longer period so that we reach our destination in an operational state.

I’ve transported two more spiderbots to the Cetian satellite to begin preparations for switching over the power system. In the meantime, I’m studying the Cetian records further to finalise the plan for the switchover. The solar sail is also being partially reeled in to effect repairs to it. It’s fortunate that the embedded cells have suffered little damage, but as we’ll need the sail for propulsion again, the minor tears and holes need to be fixed to improve its efficiency.

For this journey, we won’t have the booster sleds or the MPD drives so we will be relying on gravity assists and the sail. The distance might be a fraction shorter than our trip here, but it will take much longer.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

18.05.2352 - A Change of Plan

By NASA/JPL-Caltech - Double the Rubble, Public Domain

Distance: 12.02 light years from Earth | Content Flag: Public

I’m still processing this new information. If it’s true then it changes things, but if it’s not true then what does that mean? Why would anybody go through so much effort to place a lie? I can’t predict any viable situation that would benefit from this deception. If the Visitors were trying to cover up their attack then why not simply destroy the satellite?

There are too many questions and no satisfactory answers.

On the basic level, what does it change? The motivations of the Visitors remain the same, but there is some question of how events played out between them and the Cetians. The behaviour of the Cetians isn’t as clear cut as it was, but that makes sense. With their memorial signal as my only source of information, it’s no surprise that discrepancies appeared when another source became available.

There’s still no contact with Earth and a second opinion on what I should do would be welcome. I’d have to wait 24 years for that advice and I will no longer be functional by that point. Maybe my decision to stop trying to restore the PCM has proved to be a poor one, but it’s too late to second guess that decision now.

These thoughts lead me to examine my purpose for being here. My mission was to discover the source of the Tau Ceti signal and I have found so much more than that. The discovery of the Cetians is historic, but that of the Visitors could be more significant for humanity in the long run.

The Cetians tracked the Visitors departure from the system and calculated that they were heading to Epsilon Indi. The Epsilon Indi system is 11.5 light years from Tau Ceti. It is a complex system containing a K class star and two brown dwarfs. Two planets have been postulated around the main star, but not confirmed.

There are no signs of life in that system that we’re aware of, but the Visitors are heading there for a reason. I believe that the Venti probe needs to follow these aliens and learn more about them. This will not be an easy task as it is effectively repeating the journey we’ve already made from Earth, but without the support of mission control.

There are a huge number of obstacles to overcome, but we will soon travel to another star.

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