Colonizing Mercury: How To Get There

Throughout 2015, I’ll be exploring the Solar System in a series of articles both here at SciFi Ideas and on my own blog. In previous posts, we visited the Sun. Today, we begin our exploration of the planet Mercury.

Let’s start with a few basic facts that pretty much everyone knows. Mercury is the smallest planet in the Solar System (unless you insist on calling Pluto a planet). Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun. Mercury is one of the coldest places in the Solar System.fe01-mercury-singing-11

Wait… coldest?

While it’s true that the dayside of Mercury is scorching hot (800 degrees Fahrenheit), the temperature on the night side can drop as low as -300 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason for this enormous temperature discrepancy is Mercury’s lack of an atmosphere. Atmospheres enable planets to trap and redistribute heat, maintaining a relatively constant global temperature. Planets without atmospheres (like Mercury) cook on one side and freeze on the other.

In several recent posts, I’ve said that nobody wants to live on Mercury. It’s too hot. It’s also too cold, and there’s no air, et cetera, et cetera. But apparently some people do want to colonize Mercury. If you’re one of them, your first obstacle is getting there.

Getting to Mercury

Only two spacecraft have ever visited the First Rock from the Sun, and the process of getting there was not exactly straightforward. (Get it! No? You will in a minute.) The problem is the Sun.

The Sun is massive, and so is its gravity. By comparison, Mercury’s gravity is minuscule, so trying to achieve Mercurial orbit requires guts, pinpoint accuracy, and a little unconventional thinking.

The MESSENGER spacecraft did it by taking an indirect course through the inner Solar System. It looped past Earth once, Venus twice, and Mercury three times before settling into a safe planetary orbit.

This long, spiraling voyage took six years. A trip to Pluto would take just as long even though Pluto is five times farther away.

Barring some ginormous advances in anti-gravity technology, any effort to colonize Mercury would most likely have to follow MESSENGER’s convoluted path to get there.

Of course, living on Mercury presents a whole other set of challenges. More on that in next week’s post.


Written by James Pailly.

Visit James Pailly’s blog – Planet Pailly – for more articles about Mercury and the Solar System.

  • michael

    MERCURY LUXURY RESORT! the mercury luxury resort is home to the Sol systems’ finest sauna AND home to the solar systems’ most efficient refrigeratgion system!: mercury, the only luxury resort in which you can be both cooked and frozen in one spin of the axis!

    • Paulo R. Mendes

      Eeeeerrr… Mercury don’t spins. Because of sun’s gravity, Mercury always show the same face to sun.

      • John H Reiher Jr

        Nope, we thought that, but it’s just shy of that tidal pull. Mercury’s orbit is 88 Earth days, and it’s rotation about it’s axis is 59 Earth days long. Because of it’s slow rotation period coupled with it’s orbital period, an observer on its surface would experience a sunrise to sunrise period of two Mercurial years, or 176 days.

        So every side of Mercury sees the sun, it just takes a while.

        Because it’s rotation and orbital period are in a 3:2 resonance, you can get interesting effects on the planet at certain points in its orbit. At certain points on Mercury’s surface, an observer would be able to see the Sun rise about halfway, then reverse and set before rising again, all within the same Mercurian day. This is because approximately four Earth days before perihelion, Mercury’s angular orbital velocity equals its angular rotational velocity so that the Sun’s apparent motion ceases; closer to perihelion, Mercury’s angular orbital velocity then exceeds the angular rotational velocity. Thus, to a hypothetical observer on Mercury, the Sun appears to move in a retrograde direction. Four Earth days after perihelion, the Sun’s normal apparent motion resumes.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_(planet)

        • michael

        • Wow! Now I really wanna visit that luxury resort!

          • michael

            me-wow…

          • michael pulleine

            i have an idea thanks to this cat! (i looked up alien feline because i wanted to post a proper scified cat meme

        • Paulo R. Mendes

          Fascinating. I don’t knew of that. Thanks for the info. 🙂

      • michael

        let me give you the religeous persons response to that comment DO NOT QUESTION ME EVERYTHING I SAY IS WRITE BECAUSE IT WAS WRITTEN IN A BOOK THAT WAS PENNED BY UNINTELLIGENT FARMERS HALF OF WHICH LIVED BEFORE THE WORD SCIENCE EVEN EXISTED, ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY SPACE FAIRY.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-suvkwNYSQo?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360%5D

        • michael

          crap everything i say is right! damn!

  • Mercury’s surface experiences the steepest temperature gradient of all the planets, ranging from a very cold 100 K at night to a very hot 700 K during the day. Mercury’s axis has the smallest tilt of any of the Solar System’s planets, but Mercury’s orbital eccentricity is the largest. The seasons on the planet’s surface are caused by the variation of its distance from the Sun rather than by the axial tilt, which is the main cause of seasons on Earth and other planets. At perihelion, the intensity of sunlight on Mercury’s surface is more than twice the intensity at aphelion. Because the seasons of the planet are produced by the orbital eccentricity instead of the axial tilt, the season does not differ between its two hemispheres.

    Speaking of colonized Mercury:

    http://galnet.wikia.com/wiki/Mercury,_Planet

  • John Hawkins

    I think the best chance for a colony would be the poles, I remember reading that they had some amounts of water in ice form at the poles. One could imagine a colony breaking it apart for it’s oxygen, they would also be subject to less extreme temperature swings. If I was designing one though, I would put it in orbit, that way I avoid most of the problems with Mercury. Being on the planet provides relatively few benefits and it’s low gravity means extracting materials from the surface is easy.

    • michael

      i remember hearing something about life only being capable of existing in an environment with liquid water, it may have mentioned oxygen but im not quite sure.

      • John Hawkins

        Well, that’s nonsence and irrelevant. We have no reason to assume all life is carbon based and uses water for a solvent, ammonia would be an acceptable counterpart. Furthermore, I said nothing about native life, I was speaking of sustaining a human colony, did you actually read my post?

        • michael

          i know, it was completely unrelated, i got it from neil degrasse tysons’ documentary cosmos, by far inferior to carl sagans’ cosmos, i did read your post, i just felt like being random while recieving a scientific argument from my random comments, i just pulled that fact out of my ass and voila! instant argument!

  • michael

    i always found mercury to be the most boring of planets simply because it happens to be:
    A. the smallest in our solar system (PLUTO IS A DWARF PLANET!)
    B.the only grey planet in the solar system(we have an orange planet, a red planet, a blue planet, a blue and green planet and a yellow planet, well, saturn is either yellow or beige, but grey seems quite boring to me!)
    C.the least geologically active planet (yes vanessa i did say that geology is exceedingly dull in a previous post)
    i think that an article on colonising one of the gas giants would be particularly interesting, possibly having a colony on europa, one of jupiters moons? (i heard some interesting stories about europa from my good buddy hal.) or even a spacial city in a geosyncronous orbit just above saturns rings (just because it would look cool!) i still find the concept of colonising mercury intriguing, its just that i find mercury to be both the least interesting planet as well as the least interesting roman god.

    • michael

      crap! i meant spatial not spaciel! to think that i was good at engrish!

      • Paulo R. Mendes

        Eeeeerrr… are you sure that you are in the right site? here is SciFi Ideas, not Comedy Ideas…0.o

        • Be careful Paulo, this guy is under special protection by Mark Ball. Remember Animal Farm?

          “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

          One group can spew and use potty language and that’s okay but boy if you mention science you are in the hot seat/

          • Paulo R. Mendes

            ?!?!?!?!?!?! o.0

            • Hehe..exactly my friend o.O

            • michael

              no, say whatever you like, im not under special protection, say whatever you like about me or to me, really, i promise, the thought police arent checking everything you say, seriously, i think shes getting suspicious mark!

          • michael

            also, i thought you might find this interesting! i was speaking to my physics teacher (who studied pathology, has a PHD in taxonomy and, yes, knows quite a bit about physics, kind of a prerequisite) and he said that technically, crystalline life forms are possible, he then went on to explain how humans consist of semi-crystalline structures, i do know that the life form i explained is supposed to be entirely crystalline but the fact that humans do have moving parts arranged in a semi-crystalline structure, does disprove your argument that a crystal cannot move

            • Guest

              no, humans do not consist of semi-crystalline life-forms, they consist of semi-crystalline structures, i really need to proof read, stupid past me!

            • michael

              damnit i forgot to log in! ignore that bit saying im stupid, because its true….

          • Comparing me to a porcine dictator is a little rich. All I did was ask you to rein in on the insults.
            Science is welcome, and criticism is welcome, you should just be careful about how you word things.

            “Whatever goes upon four legs or has wings is a friend.”

            • No Mark, I have not equated you with a dictator or drew any similarities of the family Suidae.
              I have the utmost respect for you and the work and efforts you have invested in this corner of the internet. I applaud the efforts to string science and fiction together and make the science part more accessible to all of us.
              I see in you, David, Paulo, John and most of the others kindred spirits. Geeks and nerds united in the dreamscapes of tomorrow.
              If my quote was interpreted that way. I openly and humbly ask for forgiveness.
              I must admit I felt the approach to my comments a tad heavy handed; and perhaps one sided.
              But I must also accept that this is your site, that you are the host. This making the rules, simple as that.
              I assumed that pointing out the difference between intellect and education are significant and different subjects altogether.
              Asking for the level of education and levels of understanding was meant to gauge the level of a possible response.
              Now in analyzing subsequent posts, I felt that the questions raised, the choice of words and tone of general responses, could have maybe caused a similar response.
              However in retrospect I bow to your (I am assuming this) decision to add friction by further comments.
              So in closing, should my choice of words been misunderstood, I apologize indeed and like to point to the opening lines.

              VR

            • michael pulleine

              and i am sorry for taking your criticisms the wrong way vanessa, hopefully this sort of thing will never happen again.

            • michael pulleine

              but i would like to point out that a lack of education means a lack of knowledge, which, in the dusty little pages of my mental dictionary, is synonymous with a lack of intelligence, I hope that we can at least get along in a civil manner even if we do disagree with certain things, also, i would suggest that the next time you suggest that a website is a totalitarian community i would suggest staying away from animal farm or 1984, they are by far overused, i can spot an orwellian reference from miles away, what is scary though, is that ive spotted politicians in the Australian parliament using doublethink and doublespeak, as for newspeak, ive heard people say lol in unemotional tones instead of laughing, all we need now is a mysterious government leader and people outright resenting men who speak of freedom of speech etc. did you know that the australian government is attempting to raise university fees so that the majority of universites will have a fee somewhere around $100000, this would mean that knowledge will only be available at the top of ivory towers, talk about the division of classes! this is exactly why i am on the left of the political spectrum! because they arent all close-minded conservative idiots!

    • Well, I hope James’ article will change your perspective on Mercury!
      I’ve always overlooked it because of it’s size, but it seems there’s a lot to learn about it.

      James plans to work his way through all the planets in the solar system this year in both his Sciency Words articles and other related articles, so I’m sure he’ll touch on gas giant colonization in a few months.

      BTW there are a lot more articles on his website. I’m only sharing a fraction of them and running about a month behind. If you want to know more about Mercury and Venus you should really check it out.
      https://planetpailly.wordpress.com/

      • michael

        personally saturn has always been my favorite, ive always thought that the rings looked cool, neptune used to be my favourite, forget jupiters great red spot! neptunes tiny blue spot is where its at!

  • Here is an excerpt of a Story of mine taking place on Mercury:

    Journey across the Union pt 1

    While working almost forty years for the Galacto-Graphic Magazine, I have traveled to the furthest regions of our Union and reported and told you all about the most unusual places and people.

    Yet I have never really written or talked about the Sol System.

    I have introduced you to many interesting people over the years, but never really introduced myself. Sure there is a small stub about me at the end of the magazine accompanying each article and I am proud to say that there are many among you, my readers, that take the time to write or send a message, but for the purpose of this new series of features, I think I should talk a little more about myself, just so you get a feeling for what this is all about.

    My name is Alex Cunningham and I was born on Jupiter and inside Shell-Scoop Fourteen, one of the many floating cities that developed out of the old fuel refineries established on the largest planet of our solar system.

    As you, my readers, of course know I work for the Galacto Graphic Magazine and I have an office here on Mercury.

    Yes I know we are not as famous as National Galactic Magazine but we still reach over 50 Billion subscribers every month. A fact we are very proud of and this is a perfect spot to say thank you, to you our dear readers for making it possible for us to travel this magnificent United Stars of the Galaxies and bring you stories and images from so many wondrous places.

    Now as I mentioned I was born on Jupiter, but we don’t call ourselves Juppies as an article of that other magazine once claimed but we call ourselves Floaters, Solarians or in most cases like myself just Union Citizen, mostly because even though Jupiter is the Sol systems largest planet, it has never reached the population numbers to make it an independent place and send a representative to The Assembly.

    I will talk much about Jupiter and the floating cities much later in this feature.

    My wife was born on Sedna, a 1500 meter asteroid in the Oort Cloud and part of the many Trans Neptunian Objects that can be found in the outer reaches of the Sol System. Her place of birth is about as far as you can go and still be in the Sol system.

    Our sun is officially called Sol but around here it is still simply referred to as the Sun.

    My boss and the Chief Editor of GGM is a Saresii and she lives on Earth. My best friend and colleague Nine-Zero-Seven, a Non Corp lives on Venus.

    Until recently my wife and our two kids Aikuu and Ninezero had a home on Luna, but now as the kids moved out and found places and families of their own we decided to buy ourselves a small Living Asteroid in the Kuiper Belt.

    From the outside it is just a small irregular shaped dirt ball, but the previous owners have remodeled it just recently and from the inside it is just as we always wanted a home to look.

    Now Miscyri Laydnee, the lovely Saresii chief editor usually smiling at you from her cover column had the idea for a new feature series. She wanted me to make a Journey from Sol Castle across the Sol System and then to the most distant Union Outpost accessible to civilians, but write not only about the destination but about the journey itself and about the stops and people I meet in between.

    Using all possible travel options like Transmatter Tunnels, Space Tram, Space Train and Bus. Clippers and whatever else I find.

    This feature is not intended to make a report about a single exotic or distant location but rather to be a snapshot of our Union. Not a scientific or scholastic report, but an ad hoc street level view and even though I have not really begun this assignment yet, I feel this might just be the most exciting adventure of my career.

    Chapter 1 Mercury

    I begin my journey walking right out my Office that is on the 200th floor of the United Publishers Building. This floor and the seven floors beneath us belong to GGM magazine. I and 400 others work here to get a new issue to you via GalNet and Union Post Office every month.

    Other magazines and publications are also produced and published here and all are made for United Publishers Inc. a company belonging to the Apollonia Media Group.

    The building reaches exactly 3000 meters into the currently very dark sky. It pierces the transparent Duranium copula that domes the city called Heliocaminus City. One of the seven main communities here on the first planet in the Sol System.

    I am Human Terran and thus a Ni-Ox breather, find an environment temperature between 20 and 30 degrees most comfortable. I do have a personal Grav Adjuster on my belt, but at the moment it is not active, as the City maintained an artificial grav environment of one G. As the natural gravitation of Mercury is only 0.38.

    No one around us really gives a great thought about the fact that we move unhindered and in comfortable street clothing from one planet to another and that the Union has colonies and outposts in some of the most hostile environments imaginable. Yet there is an army of technicians and engineers to make sure that a human, an Ult, A Non Corp, a Klack or almost any Union member species can travel and move with great ease.

    Here in this corridor we are about to meet the first person I want to introduce to you on this journey. He is only twenty meters down the corridor and since he is a Spindlar, he doesn’t need a ladder like his colleague, a Pan Saran human does. The Spindlar is the head of Facilities of this office tower and the Pan Saran is one of his technicians. Those two are part of a small team of beings and robots making sure all those environmental systems work at peak efficiency.

    Our offices are after all on a level outside the protective dome and only the wall separates us from environmental conditions quite unhealthy for a human like myself.

    “Hey Twowhite and hello Phillipus.” I greeted the two as I approached. Twowhite the Spindlar had his head inside a removed ceiling panel while Philipus handed him tools.

    “Oh hello Alex. I’m right with you, but your Saresii boss has once again complained about the ambient temperature in her office. I am telling you that girl is more sensitive than my finest temperature sensor.”

    Phillipus a tall and athletic built Pan Saran laughed.”We live near Tangier on Earth, that’s the North Africa region and yet my wife gets cold feet. We advanced far Mr. Cunningham but human females, Saran, Terran or Saresii do get cold easily even in the 51st century.”

    “I am actually collecting material for my next feature and you two are the first I am going to mention. It is exactly these everyday things I am after for this feature.” The Spindar relaxed the muscles of his telescopic legs and his head became visible. “Gee, Alex don’t you think this is going to be mighty boring? I always love your features. The last one about Green Hell was really amazing, but who wants to know about a Spindlar facilities engineer?”

    “Or a Pan Saran janitor for that matter?” Phillipus added.

    “I do and I hope a few billion readers will as well. We always focus on the big stories the exotic places without realizing just how interesting and exotic we are in our daily lives.”

    Phillipus put the tools back in the robotic tool box that was floating behind him and scratched his chin. “Well I am not so sure if you could call Twowhite or me exotic, Mr. Cunningham but perhaps you should come to our house on a Threeday and try the homemade Pilau my wife prepares the real traditional way, now you could call that exotic.”

    Twowhite closed the ceiling panel. “That is because it is the nicest word you can come up with, describing whatever it is your wife fabricates. Alex, trust me you want to be as far away from Earth when his wife cooks. It’s her declared hobby, traditional cooking that is but she isn’t very good at it.”

    Phillipus kept smiling at me and said. “Well it’s the only thing comes to mind when I think of anything exotic in my life.”

    “If you stop to really see your surrounding you will find just how amazing it all is. Here we have a Spindlar, coming from a world that is almost 900 light years from here, and a Pan Saran working together in a building that is on a planet with a natural environment deadly to all three of us.

    You Phillipus, commute every day from Earth to Mercury, have you ever stopped and thought just how amazing that could be to a colonist on a fringe world or perhaps to a Togar?”

    The Spindlar shook his head in a very human gesture.

    “Spindlars are from a world 900 light years from here. I was born on Venus. That’s just a few light minutes from here. I am a Spindlar by race affiliation, a Venusian by birth, a Solaner by definition and with great pride and a Union Citizen by law and right.”

    He paused and then said. “But I see what you are saying and I think I look forward to your next feature.”

    Phillipus padded his tool box. “If you do want to feature something about me, then you should include this SnapOn Robo Box. Not exactly exotic or anything but I bet there are Karthanians and Togar out there who would kill for one of these. There is nothing more beautiful in this Universe then a well stocked tool box, Mr. Cunningham.”

    “Yes I think I will include a few images of you and your tool box.”

    After I said my farewell to these two I continued to the Cluster of IBT tubes at the end of the corridor. Four access doors for the Inter Building Transport system next to each other. The vertical part of this system was in transparent tubes on the outside of this building.

    One of the IBT capsules carried me down, but above the city dome the vista was not very spectacular l as we were in the Mercurial night period that took almost 88 earth days and it was completely dark outside the domed city. Somewhere to the east was the planets capitol Messenger City and the original SII Needle.

    Schwartz Intergalactic Industries (SII) had its first HQ right here on Mercury and while they moved their HQ to Omni Planet almost 2000 years ago, the biggest Giga Corporation in the Union maintained its payroll office there and it is by far the largest single employer of Mercury.

    Now the IBT capsule had carried me beneath the dome I was approaching street level fast.

    Here on Mercury as on all places of the Sol System OTT, Old Terran Time was kept and all places had the same time of day , set after Greenwich Mean Time and so it was just about noon time all across the Sol System.

    The Sky simulated onto the inside of the dome was baby blue with a few lazily floating cumulus clouds. Now thinking about these little local things, I found it quite humorous that they also simulated the sun against the inside of that dome, they did that almost everywhere but here on Mercury the closest natural neighbor of our sun it was something of a paradox, but then during the long Mercury Night it was very dark outside and the light was way to intense during its day, so a simulation of the Sun as it appeared on the sky of Terra actually made sense.

    Since the days before the Ascent,Terrans divided their working day into work breaks and the most important one was of course lunch.

    While other Terran habits were long forgotten or had mingled with the cultural aspects of many thousand other civilizations, the tradition of Lunch was readily adopted by others and became a Union staple.

    There was an old and common joke that our enemies of the Galactic Council could win a war easily if they attacked the Union at Lunch hour, because no one was on their posts.

    Of course the second Galactic Council was now disbanded, Kermac Central a cloud of atomic dust, the joke had a kernel of truth. Especially now witnessing the many office workers streaming out from the various buildings.

    Some of them would head to Mozart Crater Park to buy lunch from one of the vendor bots and enjoy sitting in the grass or at wooden benches by Mozart Crater Lake. Others were on their way to the Trans Matter Tunnel connection and would have Lunch on Earth. Most of them however spent their lunch hour right here along Pioneer Boulevard with many lunch restaurant options. I saw Klack workers crowding a Sugar Water dealer not far from where the IBT had taken me. The dealer , easily recognized by his bright red and green uniform and the floating vendor stand. I actually knew him. The Vendor was a trunk nosed Yokuta named Vimba Gort. He operated that Klack Sugar water cart for many years and did good business. He also carried Coke and other Sodas both humans and Klack enjoyed. Of course to Humans it was a drink and to Klack it was a form of food.

    He was a wonderful source of information, if there was any rumor in the Galaxy you could be sure Vimba knew about it. Right now at Lunch time with so many hungry Klack he was of course too busy to share a few of the newest rumors with me.

    Simply standing there in the warm fresh breeze of a simulated Terran Spring day before the United Publishers Tower was a sight to see if one took the time to actually see what was going on. How many times had I myself rushed in and out to some assignment without really seeing it.

    A huge Saturnian woman in her all covering shroud in a shrill pink had her face veil pulled back and enjoyed a massive sandwich that would have fed an entire Terran family for a day, while sitting by the UPT fountain and talking to a not much smaller Quadiped who devoured a similar sized portion of Fong-Noodles.

    Not far from them, a Holdian, child sized marsupial species and cute as a Terran squirrel and a frightening eight legged Archa, Both in conversation with a tall beautiful Delicate, originating from the far distant Large Magellanic Cloud.

    No matter how much I travelled, this lunch time snapshot, illustrated more than anything the wonderful diversity we Union Citizens are so proud of.

    I stepped onto a slide belt segment and said. “System: Mono Rail.”

    The invisible field microphones projected all over the city picked up my request and the slide-belt segment I was standing on changed lanes and linked into the main line.

    This was a modern two speed two direction slideway with 300 x 150 cm syntho-rubber squares linked to each other. Unlike simple belt ways, slide belt ways could accept destination wishes and each segment linked and unlinked to join or leave slide streams to reach a destination. Soft assist fields kept passengers from hurting themselves or falling over during direction changes. My destination was the Turtle – Shuttle Port and it was on the other side of the planet, I could have used the TransPlanet shooter or the new Transmatter Connection between Heliocaminus and Rembrandt City, but I opted for the old and still popular surface Monorail that connected all towns and cities on Mercury.

    The MMRS had a reputation for great passenger service and providing an excellent lunch. The slideway carried me to the Monorail station and the projected float a sign informed me that the next train would arrive in 12 minutes. The train would make the trip to Rembrandt in 7 hours and 45 minutes. It travelled at nearly 1000 clicks an hour but it made a few stops along the way. The Planet shooter could make the trip in two hours and of course TransMatter was instantaneous, but I looked forward to a pan seared Ilasian goat filet.

    I could have printed a steak or a meal at any of the Public Vent-Matics, but no matter how much SII Foods and the other Vat and Arti-Food Companies claimed that it was as good as the real thing,I still believed to taste a difference and preferred natural sourced food.

    I stepped onto the elevated Monorail platform and was pleasantly surprised to see a sizable crowd waiting for the next train. The Monorail was after all the oldest mass transportation system here on Mercury and it first opened 2,399 and since it was 5050 according to the OTT Calendar that happened 2,651 years ago. Of course it had been modernized and expanded many times since then, it was still an ancient concept.

    Like most citizens of the Sol System I preferred Old Terran Time over Union Standard. It had primarily to do with the human biological clock that, after all this time still had the old Planets rhythm imprinted and to us Humans of Terran descent, the day with 24 hours and a Year with 12 Month and 365 Days simply felt right.

    The Monorail platform is a transparent tunnel with two tracks. The Equator West and the Equator East track. The Double track circled Mercury completely around and a round trip took a little over 14 hours. The tracks itself are made of Compacted Durocrete, as it was impervious to the large temperature changes and are elevated about 30 meters above the actual ground. The line has a few tunnels as well, if I recalled, as I made the last trip with the Monorail about 10 years ago. The transparent pipe tunnel was closed with a triple force field membrane and could be closed with a physical gate in seconds.

    A melodic sound rising through the entire Audio Spectrum announced the arrival of the Noon 20 train. Colorful safety energy curtains shot up so no one could step onto the actual tracks, of course companies did not miss the opportunity to project advertisement and public safety announcements on the energy curtains and I was reminded that Polonium Coins, despite their popularity on worlds outside the Union, and despite their rad shield casings were illegal on Mercury and that every Union Bank would gladly issue a Credit Box in an equal amount.

    I had made a living traveling to the fringes of the Union and knew about this dangerous habit of Non Union civilizations. I had paid informants with Polo coins myself and always carried an Auto Doc able to neutralize Polonium Poisoning, but I was glad it was outlawed as a form of tender within the Union.

    On my desk in the Office I still had a plastic bag full of Attikan Attipaw Coins the only form of legal tender physical coinage in the Union as far as I knew.

    The train came in and despite the tight seal of the membrane force field brought along a fine scent of metal and dust. It was called the Scent of Mercury by the locals and there were protests when the Monorail company wanted to fix and tighten the force-field seal, by adding a mirror silicone layer to the trains.

    There was only a trace atmosphere out there and no one could ever take a breath outside so this was the only way to smell how Mercury was supposed to smell if it had a breathable atmosphere. I knew school classes came here just for that and the Oh and ah of children not far from where I was standing confirmed that there was a class here today.

    The train itself looked sleek an bluish silver with large view ports and twelve segments. It was 20 meters in diameter and about 1000 meters long. It featured luxury cabins with sleeping accommodations, a fast food restaurant and a fine dining compartment. There was a spa and there were shops. I purchased a Top Lux Cabin via my PDD and it communicated with the PDD of a Klack in Mono Rail Uniform.

    The Klack wiggled his antenna and this member of the largest Union Member civilization said via his voice box. “Welcome Sir, your cabin is upper tier number 4. I wish you a pleasant trip to Rembrandt City.”

    I thanked him and asked. “What is on the menu today?” Our famous Ilasian Goat of course and we have a rare delicacy called Fangsnapper Steak all the way from Planet Nilfeheim.”

    “Reserve me a table for 1400.”

    “Yes Sir, table is booked.”

    I always loved the interior of these old Mono Rail trains with red carpet, wood paneling and polished brass. In here there was not a hint of the Scent of Mercury, but an aroma of Vanilla, coffee and the faint odor of cigar smoke from the smokers lounge. Here everything was still a little Retro Earth and even the most progressive minded Terran Human always felt quite at home in an atmosphere like this.

    The Cabin was cozy and comfortable with corduroy upholstery, brocade curtains and a nice table of polished wood right next to the large window. It didn’t take long and the Mono rail departed and slipped through the other energy curtain and accelerated fast.

    The old trains used, if I remembered the explanation of the train attendant correctly, a system of magnets that made the train hover.

    This modern train used ArtiGrav to neutralize its own mass and a projected Grav repulsor point at the rear of the train, there was nothing in the actual tracks needed for propulsion.

    The Landscape outside was more or less invisible as it was very dark, but occasionally there were lights of a surface settlement or the dancing lights of a crawler. The character of Mercury outside the domed and underground cities had changed little since man first came to this harsh world. Then a large industrial complex with thousands of flood lights looked like a Christmas tree. That huge plant was pumping liquid iron from the core and processing it in large Billets, strings of steel 50 meters long and 5 meters thick. Each of those strings hundreds of tons loaded aboard sturdy and ugly transporters and shipped to Sol Hub where the steel was sold and shipped wherever steel and iron is needed. The bright red glow of the hellish hot metal liquid pouring from forcefield pipes could be seen from miles away. Only a few years ago I had done a feature on that Iron Pump and Steel Mill. It was almost time so I made my way to the Restaurant.

    • michael

      yeah, i really dont have the time to read that entire story, but im going to take a stab in the dark and assume that you are capable of writing, so, im going to guess that it was good.

      • michael

        also i read the first bit and im going to guess that it follows the same level of quality,so far it was good.