Had a really odd dream last night.
An old friend and I were the first humans to go to Mars, although the mission wasn’t initially planned that way. The deal was, we’d stay in the lander, and deploy a number of robotic probes from our craft.
Once we got there, it became pretty clear that I hadn’t trained for the mission at all, asking my buddy what I should be doing, where my spacesuit was, and generally just watching him take care of a lot of the heavy mission-critical lifting. At one point on that first day, a few of those probes malfunctioned; their wheels didn’t deploy, and we couldn’t move them around. Even though it was night, and I’d have trouble locating the probes, I went outside, found them, and manually popped the wheels down. Problem hopefully solved.
On our second day at the Red Planet, we realized it was awfully strange that I hadn’t needed my helmet to go out the day before; clearly, there was a lot more oxygen in the Martian atmosphere than was initially reported. I had even gone out in bare feet, for chrissakes. I decided I would wear shoes on day two, because you sure don’t want to cut your foot on a Martian rock, and get infected with some alien bacteria you’ve never encountered before, right?
So both of us head out in the morning on Sol 2, now with the bright light of day making the surrounding terrain easy to see. In the distance, there was a strip mall and a Target store. That seemed weird for Mars, too. Looking up in the sky, we saw the Moon, and thought that perhaps we weren’t on Mars after all. Turns out my friend Ben wasn’t very good at steering our rocket. Despite his best efforts, we hadn’t even escaped Earth’s atmosphere, and after taking off from Cape Canaveral, we landed our ship in western Wyoming, thinking we’d reached Mars.
It sure was a fast trip.