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U=(N/T)M*G: Found

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Sometimes, in the course of innocuous browsing for a topic, one comes across a cool bit of science and an unexpected tidbit pops up that really gets the muse going. This happened to me today.

Almost two decades ago, NASA launched a little satellite whose mission was to study our magnetosphere. The neat little guy, IMAGE, sent us back a lot of real photographic gems of our little mudball and information that added to our scientific understanding of our world. It showed us the unique qualities of the protective, living shield our core generates, and how it interacts with our Sun.

Sadly, we lost it back in 2005. The morning telemetry came in like it was supposed to, but the afternoon telemetry didn’t. NASA tried to get back in contact with IMAGE, but we couldn’t. So, why am I talking about a probe that died over a decade ago?

An amateur radio operator found it at the end of January and we’re getting information back from IMAGE. That’s how I learned of the interesting little tidbit that got my muse to sit up and take notice. In an article recounting how the radio operator found the satellite, there was a quote from a newspaper in it which said :

IMAGE discovered that the Earth spits out jets of its own atmosphere to defend itself from space storms – like a squid shooting ink.

It got me thinking about sentient planets and how they defend themselves, along with their host populations. Maybe our worlds are just creatures moving in a vast vacuum ocean and we are the symbiotes and parasites hitching a ride. My fingers are itching just thinking about all the ways such a thought can be used in stories. And that little IMAGE probe should be immortalized for providing us with the catalyst to even more fantastic ideas.

-T.A. Creech

Science n the pursuit of Fiction

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