Dr. Mara Parrish is part of a highly-trained NASA team that is exploring Europa, a moon of Jupiter, looking for signs of life deep below its shell of ice. With the help of a deep-space mining vessel, they have drilled underneath the surface ice to an ocean of water. But when they send a remote submersible to investigate, they make a discovery that will completely upend the mission – and immediately pit the NASA team and mining vessel against each other. Suddenly, the most amazing scientific discovery in human history is balanced between greed, deception, and for Mara… the most unlikely chance at a new love. The two landing teams have turned on each other as their environment becomes increasingly hostile, but the mysterious denizens of this icy world may be offering clues for those that are willing to listen. Which crew will escape with the life-altering discovery before the moon destroys them all?
Targeted Age Group:: All ages
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have always loved Science Fiction, and especially stories that stick to plausible science and scenarios. I also wanted to present a realistic scenario in the not to distant future that we will have to grapple with as we begin to explore space and take advantage of the resources there.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I always enjoy a story that has a deep personal connection or experience for the characters, and also challenges assumptions or stereotypes. I tried to set the characters to slowly overcome the preconceived notions of each other even though they came from very different backgrounds.
Visitors to the George Collinson Institute for Neurological and Regenerative Studies pass a small gallery just off the main lobby when they enter. It is a room created as a tribute to the NASA Copernicus mission – the mission responsible for the creation of the institute. The gallery is a darkened space, quietly isolated and purposefully set away from the bright windows and reflective floors and busy footsteps in the lobby, and it guards its valuable contents behind thick concrete walls.
Guests who enter the room are directed through a narrow vestibule, single file, with security guards at either side. They move past precast walls and wood moldings that conceal metal detectors and cameras, past heavy vault doors that disappear into the building above and below them, and past motion detectors and pressure sensors and other discreet security measures.
Upon entry, the visitors move steadily as they maintain a scripted path within velvet-lined ropes. They are led past images hung along the walls in a sequence. The large picture frames surround black and white photos of the mission responsible for the institute and the gallery. Each of the frames has a small placard below explaining what they are.
One image shows a monstrously tall mining rig; a spidery metal framework decorated with points of light across its frame. It towers in the foreground before a deep black sky. Another image is from inside the rig. There is a drilling apparatus suspended from a crane with watery piles of slush that form a ring in the floor. In yet another image, a shiny torpedo-shaped object is suspended directly over the ring, its nose pointed into the black hole at the center like a missile.
The men and women in the pictures wear bio-suits and hover around the opening as they work on the equipment. Some of them seem to know their images will be captured and displayed for history. They look like time-travelers from another generation.
The velvet ropes lead the visitors past the images and around a corner to the center of the room. A delicate wooden pedestal stands with a display case fixed atop. Security glass and a stainless-steel frame protect the contents of the display. Two more guards stand aside the pedestal, alert and vigilant in an otherwise reflective and contemplative space.
Upon the pedestal lies a glass container, and inside that an object the size of a man’s fist. It has sharp reflective edges that catch the light and throw it across the dimly lit room. Miniature rainbows stride across the corners of the object as the subdued lighting is splintered into its constituent wavelengths. An iridescent sheen changes colors as the visitors walk by it, playing with the light and teasing their eyes. It is a mesmerizing object that transfixes the room. A heavy bronze plaque is suspended behind the case, and an engraved message reads in bold lettering:
“On March 25th, 2087, four members of the NASA Copernicus mission landed upon the surface of Europa, a small moon orbiting Jupiter. With the support of a mining crew they risked their lives to uncover the most precious material ever discovered in the history of mankind.”
“This small sample was collected at a depth of over seven kilometers beneath the surface of the moon. It is made of a material since named “bio-digitized diamond” and contains the chemical and genetic instructions that resulted in the cures to hundreds of diseases – and founded the creation of this institute.”
“It is estimated this small section of material contains the coded information for billions of combinations of genetic instructions and took approximately twenty-five centuries to construct by indigenous life-forms. Its value has no practical equivalency in today’s currencies. We honor the sacrifices of the women and men of the Copernicus mission who made these discoveries – and the life that flourishes by them – possible.”
Mjr. Benjamin Stenner, Mission Commander
Dr. Luis Alvarez, Phd., Astronomy
Dr. Aman Rajanpour, M.D., M Psychology
Dr. Julian Dugan, Phd., Geology, Volcanology
Dr. Mara Parrish, Phd., Marine-Biology
Spec. Reese Fielding, Mission Tech.
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