As a fan of all thing’s science, I regularly peruse the Popular Science website, among other notable scientific based platforms. I’ll skim the headlines and if something jumps out at me, I’ll read it. Otherwise, I continue my path of knowledge seeking adventure. It’s High Adventure, let me tell you!
Monday afternoon was no different. I came across this grabby headline—Planet Nine might not actually be a planet—and knew I had to read it. I mean, who wouldn’t want to? First thoughts … WTF? Do we have a possible whole ‘nother planet? But wait, it might not be a planet after all? Inquiring minds want to know … and off to read I went. Ten minutes later, the floodgates in my mind had been opened fully and I couldn’t get my word processor open fast enough. Buckets of new story ideas came rushing out and I wanted to capture at least a few of them. As if I needed more story ideas, but these were all pretty awesome, most of which I’m not gonna share here. Not gonna do it!
So, the gist of the article (it’s worth a read if you’re interested in speculative science-based theory) is that Planet Nine, which has been discussed for a while now, may or may not exist in the far reaches of our own solar system. The article touts that the infamous Planet Nine might not be a planet at all, but something much “cooler”. It could be a collection of much smaller entities, clustered together to give the impression of being a large super-planet. It’s been projected that Planet Nine has the mass of something like 10 Earth-size planets. That is gargantuan! To put into perspective, if we lived in the old-timey days and it’d take 80 days to travel around our world, would it take ten times as long to circumvent a world that was ten times as large? That’d take more than two years! That in itself is mind-boggling. Obviously, with the modern-day travel that we’ve come to appreciate, that 80-day circle around the globe can be accomplished in a lot less time. After a little Googling, it looks like it can be accomplished in around 50 to 60 hours, depending on the jet stream and the number of stops/layovers. Still, multiply that by 10, and it’s a fair bit of time to travel in an airplane. Jet lag, anyone?
According to the article, the cluster of smaller bodies of ice and rock. Putting the real science aspects aside, what else could Planet Nine be?
It’s Story Fuel time!
Suppose that it is a sea of ice. Let’s call them ice chips, and there’s a lot of them. Now, take a slightly futuristic approach, suppose that Nasa actually knows what these ice chips are made of … and just what it could mean in our own world. Add to the story that this fabled Plasma Engine existed, and based in the projected Planet Nine’s location, a mission to the “ice Field” could take somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 months. That’s … doable. Certainly, doable for a … what for it …
A Space Mining Mission!
That’s right ladies and gentlemen. Nasa is getting into the mining business, and they’re going to send out a small fleet of (maybe five to eight) cargo ships to harvest as much of that space ice as they can carry. But why travel all that way for an intergalactic ice run? Because … that ice is special. Not that special kind of clear ice we get at fancy restaurants, but perhaps those ice chips have some other-world characteristics. It would have to be something worthy enough to spark Nasa into spending potentially billions of tax-payers money for the mission.
Obviously, a lot of science-based research would have to be done before this science fiction mission could commence. And then … what would happen when they got there? Obviously, they’d find something other than just an ice field. There will no doubt be some creepy crawlies bangin’ around the neighborhood. Yeah, I know … Alien/Aliens comes to mind. But those movies were about terraforming. Or was it mining at first? Well shit, now I have to go watch them again. Oh, the rough life of a sci-fi geek.
Anyway, going from reading a short science-based article to coming up with a new science fiction story in less than 800 words is something worth noting. And for posterities sake, I’m gonna seriously work out more details of this story in the coming weeks. No snipping my idea! Yeah, okay. If you think you can do it better, just give me a hat tip somewhere in your story. Or better yet, reach out to me and we can write something together.