Red Planet's Tomorrow

 

An astronaut stands in the Copernicus Crater. Tilts back his head and squints through his face mask. Black sky, white stars. White planets. Is that Earth? No, he thinks. Too bright for Earth. Probably Venus.

He inhales. CO2 into his air tank. Solar cells and man-made photosynthesis— then oxygen, all in the fraction of second. O2 into the blood, blood to the heart. Earth body running on Martian air.

His stomach grumbles. Potatoes today, he remembers. Solanum tuberosum grown under the geodesic dome. The product of pH-modified Martian soil and Martian water and human hands.

Radar bleeps. Dust storm soon, it warns. He smiles. Looks down from the sky. Turns toward home. Weighted steps leave footprints in the Martian dust. Two steps. Three.

He pauses at the crater's wall. Pushes a button. Red rocks falls away and he's soaring up. Higher.

He looks down, wonders how high he'd go if he didn't stop. As high as the Sun? The Martian Sun? The Earth Sun. But not today— That's a question for tomorrow.