Bogland is a circum-planetary belt of vegetation. Actually it is one of two such belts. One roughly girdling the northern areas of cold tundra, which grade through pattern grounds, and thence into snow and ice fields. A second Bogland girdles the southern polar regions, in the center of which stands glaciers and vast snowfields. The bog-zones are vast, they are emerald green when seen from orbit. The bog-zones are distinctive - hence the planet's name "Bogland."
The equatorial, subtropical, and stemerate (tepid"?) zones are quite similar, one to the other. Soils are blazing white in the plauas, then yellow, and generally russet-red, ocher or dull red. There are few mountains anywhere on the planet. Lakes, bitter, salty lakes, are occasionals in the dry, clear, wind-swept desert lands between the green bog-rings.
The ANPs hover at about 22,000 feet, three aerospace planes hover in formation. One will launch explorer planes, the other two are there to give young pilots practice in atmospheric reentry, and planetary departure. Powered gliders are launched from the hovering ANP-carrier. A total of four are set on course. The fleet of three ANP vehicles will move to two more locations, at each location the flying carrier will launch a flight of four more powered gliders.
Expeditions include four powered gliders, each of which carries four to six persons. Typically each aircraft is operated by a pilot half-way through his training. Each aircraft includes one beginner pilot. Each aircraft includes two pre-teen apprentices both boys and girls. Each expedition of four gliders includes on experienced fleet pilot. Equipment is precious in the fleet, and jealously cared for; however, the fleet is almost a living thing, so training at all levels, of all age groups, is a never ceasing effort.
The ships company of star-fleet Drakensholm has been well paid to land on the planet Bogland. They will be further rewarded by Earth when Bogland's signals reach Earth.
The youngsters on the landing expeditions are wildly enthusiastic, for on this landing, anyone, or perhaps all of them, may become fabulously wealthy. This is their great chance.
Erosion is along sunflower geomorpological patterns as is deposition. Careful search of "petal edges" can unearth the most sought after, most interesting fossils known to mankind. These are fossils of leaves. On planets like Bogworld plants have been found in the desert belts which are exceedingly rich in silicates.
Such plants are often leafy, and like most leaves, develop lenses on the sunward surfaces, unlike the terrestrial leaves, these do no move, and in addition upon their deaths they fix images of their surroundings.
Swamptop, a planet orbiting a dull red star, is light years from earth and 135 light years from the fleet. Drakensholm was the first location at which photo-geology was proven to be a science.
After a century of study and amazing picture gallery has been assembled from Swamptop. The micro-pictures span over a billion years of the planet's history. Already in a few areas the record covers 1,230,000,000 Earth years without any breaks longer than five Earth years.
Swamptop's seasons last but three weeks, and its years only three Earth months. The photo-geological record on this planet now covers five billion of its years, the longest gaps in the record being only twenty of its years (or 5.31417 earth years). Geologically it is the best understood planet in the galaxy. In addition, it has revealed many cosmological secrets. The least of these is its recording of super novac in the milky way for the last billion years.
The sisters Hiska and Tina Bannier will land at longitude 120o west of Bogworld, Greenwich meridian, and 42o north latitude, near a broad white plaua surrounded by vast pediments, cut by dongas, wadis, and extensive canyons with depths that reach over a thousand feet.
The rules have been broken. Sisters, also the only children in a family, are not only on the same expedition, but traveled on the same ANP, then compounded the risks to themselves by landing on the same glider. They will be punished when they return. Rules guiding the behavior of the ships companies have been broken.
The (Ducted-fanjet) Plutonium powered glider lands. In moments three others land beside it on the hard, smooth, caliche at the edge of the snowy white plaua. They are at about 120o W. longitude and 42o N. latitude. Wheels are chocked, wings and tails are tied down. Pop-tents are set up, and the exploring party is ready to work - well, not quite, first they will eat. The cook will have to prepare for eighteen people.
Hiska, walking along the base of a bluff exclaims: "sister, look, little leaves fixed to the Earth."
Tina runs over, looks carefully as she kneels, with a hand lens. She states: "It''s like Swamptop pictures of leaves. They are tiny, don't move, and there are clear bright spots all over the tops."
Crushing a leaf with stones the sisters find they are quite oily. Tina stands with one knee behind the other. "Hiska, let's go back. With two sweaters, a windbreaker with a hood, and heavy shoes and socks I am cold. And I am so heavy on a planet."
"Tina, lets' go back and sleep. Perhaps tomorrow we will find out that all expeditions have found photo-plants.
"Hiska, will the people building the transmitter win a prize too?"
"Yes, Tina, everyone will, we hope, win a prize. Just think, we might send an ultra probe! That is something we have never done since I was born."
Decades ago an old engineer in the LEEE Journal wrote an article which considered the possibilities of acoustic archaeology. He ventured that potters' wheels might record in clays the sounds about the potter. He considered that distortions of metal swords did indicate the sounds of ancient clashes and crashes. I venture that skid and crush marks upon and within pavements indicate the time amplitude and the nature of ancient sounds, such as the gladiatorial combats in the old Circus Maximus.
Photographs taken through leaf-lenses are tiny, but when enlarged are spectacularly detailed.
Is there anywhere on Earth a fossil that acted as a camera? If a single one is found, no matter how poor, a colossal search will ensue and science of all types will be significantly enhanced.
It is extraordinary indeed, that by far the majority of geologists of all nations believe what they read and not what they see. Carbon today is deposited in enormous quantities in peat bogs, not in tropical forests, or in the thin soils of the tropical jungles.
Jim Bede, an old friend of the writer, was the first to both realize and design about the potential of a powered glider. Now if a glider were driven with a ducted fan jet, and if its fuel were PU238, its range would be unlimited. It could fly for years without refueling.
Paying star fleets 60 light years from Earth may seem improbable; but, fleets step out of the normal time-stream for centuries at a time, so if a destination is known, a packet ship can be waiting for it, of course the packet ships are unmanned robots.
An ultra probe is a packet sent back to Earth, or out from Earth, at almost the speed of light. It is only a few feet long, it is accelerated at between 100,000 G to 1,000,000 G, so at best it can reach a speed of 6000 mil/sec in one second, and closely approach the speed of light in thirty seconds.