The Foundation Society
Columbiat.S89E14. From: Office of New Settlement Planning Kolstad42Lane.
FoundationSociety.ONSP Date: 17 March 2087
Settlement Planned for Planet Mercury
Foundation Society President Edwards Smith announced today that the organization is planning to build the first large settlement on the surface of the planet Mercury. Due to the severe conditions on Mercury, current habitations are underground, primarily in lava tubes. Smith said living on the surface will be made possible by constantly moving the structure so that it stays in the terminator, the line that marks sunrise and sunset as the planet slowly rotates. “The terminator moves so slowly across the land that it is possible for a person in a spacesuit to walk and stay in it indefinitely.” The settlement will be called “Anconioh”.
The Mercury settlement will expand production of reardonium, the new metal alloy made from materials readily available on the planet’s surface. Smith said “Anconioh will receive ore from the mining operations as it goes by, ship the ore to the refinery being built for large-scale reardonium production at the settlement Aynah in Mercury orbit, receive reardonium parts made at Aynah, place those parts on the surface of Mercury to cure for up the three cycles of extreme hot and cold temperatures,thenshipthecuredpartsbacktoAynahfordeliverytoourcustomers.” Smithadded “this amazing reardonium metal is enabling development of much more efficient spacecraft than ever seen before. We have customers who make engines and spacecraft structures out of it. The engines can run at higher temperatures, are lightweight, and the reardonium parts self-lubricate in space environments. It is stronger than any other known metal, so structures can be built with less material. We can form it into complex shapes, and it’s perfect for space structures because it provides adequate protection from heat, cold, and even radiation. The stuff is so amazing that some of our customers pay to have it delivered to Earth’s surface.”
Geologist Peter Lee said a route around the planet has been identified that is near multiple deposits of the ores from which reardonium is made, He said “it’s not completely level, it makes gradual turns in places, and there are some gradual slopes on it, but it goes all around the planet and will enable the residents of Anconioh do what they will be there to do.” He added “there are no narrow passes or valleys or ridges on this route, so the contractors writing proposals to build this thing are free to make it whatever size they think is needed to do the job.”
Mineralogist Lisa Cantu observed that resources for making reardonium are abundant and accessible. She said “on the route found by the survey team, there are good spots to mine the stuff we need for reardonium production every 150 to 300 miles. There won’t be constant deliveries to Anconioh, but the batches will come often enough that the residents will keep busy handling it.” Survey manager Gale Uttamchandani noted, however, that the soil on Mercury is just as nasty as the fines on Mars “and even though there is no atmospheric wind on Mercury, just the fact that the settlement is moving will kick the stuff up and make it go where we don’t want it.”
Engineer Tom Yubickovich added “being able to make more reardonium more efficiently makes the challenges of living on Mercury worthwhile. In fact, reardonium will help make Anconioh possible: just a quarter inch of it will protect people from both solar and cosmic radiation for a few days at a time. The only thing it won’t do is tolerate severe cold or hot for long periods of time, because the conditions that were used to cure it will eventually alter its properties.”
Smith said Anconioh is named after Francisco d’Anconia, a character in Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged. Francisco operated mines that supplied copper used in the refining process to create “Reardon Metal”, the fictional alloy with a description so similar to the miracle metal produced on Mercury–including the blue-green color–that the metal’s inventors named it “reardonium”. The alloy was discovered by a geologist and an engineer on early surveys of Mercury. They left samples of various alloys on the surface for an entire 176 Earthday-long day, which led to the discovery that long exposure to solar heat and radiation, followed by a long “cold soak”, changes material properties in unexpected ways. Further experiments with varying exposure times and numbers of hot/cold soak cycles led to development of the process that produces reardonium.
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