Chapter 16.1

A quick survey of the vicinity near the crater’s rim indicated the Chinese rover had been piling the stones for quite some time. Each mound was nearly a meter high with a base of about one meter in diameter. There were at least several dozen piles scattered about, if not more. The predecessor craft, FP1 had landed on the small hills of Avernus Colles over eighteen months ago. The lightweight truck, which was used to deploy the nuclear generator is mounted with cameras. So, either it was never commanded to drive in the direction of the crater and thereby spot the rover or the rover arrived after the truck had finished its work.

The crater is to the east of FP1 and the duties of the truck were performed on the west side of the craft, where the truck is parked now, with non-original exterior adornment consisting of several holes bored into its body. This mischievous robotic rover had been very busy for quite some time. Fortunately, it never approached the generator or its power cable leading back to FP1. If the rover had bored into the cable, not only would it have been destroyed, but FP1 would have been left powerless and unable to manufacture the much needed fuel.

Though it has been widely suspected for quite some time that there are no viruses or bacteria in the Martian atmosphere, a general decontamination was performed on the specimens as a precaution. Back onboard, Tom and Brandon placed their samples in the cleansing chamber where they were bombarded with radiation, and sprayed with a disinfectant solution. Both of the men then received this same treatment before removing their pressure suits. A testing station will be set up just outside of the airlock and if it is determined safe, this procedure will be dispensed with in the future.

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