Le chapitre 54
Xu laughed at Zara’s mimicry of CapCom’s latest message. Zara stretched out each vowel and gave it such a flutter that the message was all but unintelligible. Which of course was the point. They’d received another valueless reminder to conserve water and power. Apparently their resupply ships from Earth were not automatic. Each one came after endless exhortations and pleadings from both the colonists and their attendants on planet Earth. With the inflow of water from mining on the Moon still at about a thimbleful a month then they already knew that their situation was precarious at best. Still with their miniature greenhouse looking very luscious and inviting, even if it had plants at barely a metre tall, they did sometimes believe that it would only take a little bit more to get a full scale agricultural pod in operation. Xu knew this to be a dream of a much farther away time and she settled back down after laughing at the accent and continued assembling her egress suit.
“Don’t forget to press in the flaps below the zipper so the cloth doesn’t snag” she gently chided Zara. Sure she knew that Zara had practised donning these suits tens of times on Earth but there failure had no repercussions. Here safety was always paramount and she wanted Zara to be used to following her lead for a little bit longer.
Zara drawled out, “Are we bringing our pet with us? Maybe he could sniff out some ore deposits?”
Her deference to Woof their robotic surveyor and assayer kept Xu smiling.
“If only he had a nose that could detect such anomalies then we’d be making much better progress.” Xu replied.
Sadly Woof couldn’t detect concentrated ores though he could take assays. However to date their experience with assaying confirmed that the Moon resulted from simple accretion. No one had found any evidence of veins of pure minerals or seams of ore. As the Moon lacked a magma layer and plate tectonics or even a water cycle then there was no opportunity for differentiation and trapping of metals. So there’s nothing to mine. To date nothing on the surface looked promising for extracting and potentially smelting. They had hoped for better luck by finding asteroids that had struck the Moon. The asteroid strikes might lead to a localized area of higher concentration of whatever the asteroid constituted. But they would need much better surface transportation before they could make any appreciable efforts at assaying them. All the likely craters were a very long walking distance apart.
Today, with just the two of them exploring some of the ridgelines and shade-pools Xu hoped that Zara would gain the confidence needed to undertake her systematic assaying of a complete crater. This included the central peak like the one resting in the basin below them. Maybe with a skilled person like her heading this effort they could identify and profit from the in-situ resource extraction that had been promised as the greatest value to humans being present on the Moon. However until production started she expected people on Earth to just see the colonists as costly burdens. Self-sufficiency would alleviate this perception but that would be in a long time according to their assaying results to date.
Xu finished mating the lower part of her suit to the upper, slowly stood and made her way to the egress port. She powered up her comm’s unit and told Zara that she’d meet her outside of the Hab. With an easy practised lope she swung herself outside onto the platform and then began descending the ladder the short steps to the Moon’s surface.