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The Heliopiercer Space Probe

posted Nov 28, 2014, 3:28 AM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated Oct 2, 2015, 3:15 AM ]
The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Con City Times. It was checked for scientific accuracy by famous scientist Professor van der Bishop.

The Con City Space Agency is preparing to launch its most advanced automated spacecraft next month. The Heliopiercer space probe is designed to withstand extreme environmental conditions. Its mission, to explore the one celestial body in our solar system that no one has ever tried before: the Heliopiercer will soon begin its voyage towards the Sun.

“This is our most ambitious project to date.” Professor Jared Burns, Director of the Con City Space Agency explains. “No one has ever attempted to land on the Sun. Heliopiercer will do just that. We're going to make those suckers and their tiny little comet-lander look like amateurs. Sure, they will say that landing a probe on a comet is much harder because it's small and fast, whereas the Sun is big and slow. My response: if they think it's so easy to land on the Sun, why haven't they done it yet? I'm sure they will appreciate our efforts once they realize the difficulties involved in landing anything on the surface of the Sun.”

Indeed, the task of landing on the surface of the very heart of our solar system presents tremendous challenges. Fortunately, Professor Burns and his staff have come up with brilliant solutions to all their problems.

“The key, some would say, is to avoid the heat by traveling at night.” explains Scott Freeman, the Chief Engineer of the Con City Space Agency. “But when you think about it, it's always night in space when you look away from the Sun. That's why Heliopiercer will be flying in reverse. Getting there is in fact very easy. Landing, now that's tricky. To this end we have developed a new heat-resistant material that can withstand even the extreme temperatures on the surface of the Sun. We are calling it Koldsteel. With a K, because it makes trademarking it easier.”

Professor Burns and the project team are of course not going to be satisfied with merely landing on the Sun. The probe has a unique purpose, one which speaks volumes of the true ambitions behind the project.

`Heliopiercer will land on the surface of the Sun and take a sample of the soil.' Chief Engineer Freeman elaborates. “Then, it will take off and return to Earth with the sample so that we can examine it in as much detail as possible. In principle we could have stuffed the probe full of equipment, yes, but we never could have put enough spectrometers in there. It's better to bring back a sample.”

As for the ultimate purpose of the expedition? Professor Burns offers a tale of bold ambition, a goal which, once achieved, will change the fate of humanity.

“The soil sample from the Sun will tell us exactly what it would take and how much it would cost to terraform the Sun, which in turn will allow us to form a colony on the Sun.” the Professor boldly states. “This will be the next step in the evolution of humanity, the next age if you will. Just imagine it! The colony on the Sun will never suffer from an energy crisis because everything can be powered by solar cells which will be operational 24/7. Likewise, there will be no need for artificial lighting because it will always be daytime on the Sun. Therefore, we also won't need this, excuse my choice of words here, this bullshit called summer daytime saving which only serves to piss people off and mess with their productivity. Speaking of productivity, since there will be no long nights on the Sun, people will be less prone to depression and will therefore be more efficient at their job. This colony will be a dream come true once it is established.”

Professor Burns's vision is certainly very appealing, but the project will of course face numerous difficulties.

“Most of them are purely technical issues, and we have plenty of bright ideas to deal with them.” the Professor assures. “Yes, it will be difficult to create a breathable atmosphere, not to mention we will require ample amounts of water. However, water should not be a problem once we solve the atmosphere issue; if we take enough oxygen to the Sun we can certainly make water from the plentiful local resources of hydrogen. The biggest challenge I suppose is the installation of an air conditioning system that can create suitable temperatures to sustain human life. Such an air conditioner does not currently exist, but we are already hard at work engineering one.”

The Heliopiercer space probe certainly has the potential to change the world as we know it. Professor Burns and the rest of the Con City Space Agency are firmly convinced that the project will pay dividends. Perhaps their confidence is the reason why they are officially referring to the ambitious space program as the Suck It Icarus Project.