Labyrinths of Mars
The Concept The Pitch
This is very much a speculative story based on real events. Before the European Space Agency's Mars Express Orbiter had arrived (and initially failed) to deploy its booms for scanning below the planet's surface for evidence of water, I had been researching P wave radar and its potential for revealing subsurface structure on Earth.

For example, P wave radar scans of the Sahara Desert have revealed the presence below the surface of an ancient estuary, confirming other evidence that in ancient times the Sahara was anything but arid.

For P wave radar, the presence of water actually obscures subsurface structures. But the evidence I had seen as a result of my research made me wonder whether we could make use of the technique in an arid place like Mars. Could we discover subsurface structures, and if so, what form might they take?

One possibility was evidence of an ancient civilization in the form of a network of tunnels. Catacombs are evident beneath many towns in Europe, and in places like Iraq there are networks of tunnels dug by many different cultures at different times for different purposes. Why not on Mars?

The Mars Express Orbiter isn't, as far as I know, using P wave radar but the idea still holds good. For the moment, anyway.

At the time of writing, the Orbiter is expected to begin a series of tests next week. We may find in a few months that this fictional story outline has a factual basis...

The European Space Agency's Mars Express Orbiter uncovers some interesting features beneath the planet's surface when it finally begins its radar scan for subsurface water. Images sent back to Earth show that many feet below ground there is a network of what appear to be tunnels, criss-crossing the planet and extending virtually everywhere. In countless places the tunnels converge at a central point, creating what look for all the world like tiny conurbations -- subterranean hamlets.

Suddenly there's a mad scramble to get humans to Mars and examine the tunnels in person.

The pitch/premise is on WriteSafe and here.

Last updated: January 7, 2006

Peter Brooks

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