Cultivated fields and large buildings would be easily visible in many
places around the eastern end of the Mediterranean. The Pyramids were
old even then. (The Great Wall in China probably had not been
started.) There would be no radio sounds, except for an occasional
lightning click. We do not know how well their cities were lighted at
night, but they were probably too dim to see. Tiny orange pinpoints of
light from outdoor bonfires could probably be seen around the globe,
but there would be more of them around the Mediterranean and in the
East and Near East than anywhere else. The radioactivity level would
be low. Our visitors would conclude that the inhabitants were either
in the early stages of civilization, or were once highly civilized and
now sunk back to a primitive stage. They would know that this was due
to something other than atomic war.
We have to conclude that these were moral beings. If the conditions
below were as they seemed to be, that of an early civilization, they
would not want to interfere. They would want to observe without being
observed, so even if it were technically possible they would not want
to bring a large ship down. They would send down as small and
inconspicuous a vehicle as possible.
We usually picture such a craft as a small version of the larger ship,
or a large--by our standards--rocket, or an aircraft similar to our
Dyna-soar. For people this advanced technologically something a lot
simpler might be used. It might be an open vehicle, similar to our
flying platforms, but with vastly more powerful nuclear power plants.
The men going down would have to wear air-tight suits--spacesuits, and
would have to leave them on all the time they were below, for fear of
becoming infected with molds and viruses that the natives would long
since have become immune to. One man, the pilot, would stay with the
platform while the others did the observing and recording.
The flying platform would have no need for rapid forward motion, at
least inside the atmosphere and therefore would have little need for
streamlining or protective covering for the passengers, who would
carry their equipment with them. Most of the equipment for the survey
would be built into the suits. They would each carry a set of portable
helicopter attachments so they could cover more ground in a hurry.
Like small helicopters of our time, these probably would have a rather
limited speed and range, but they would be extremely maneuverable.
The platform on the other hand, being nuclear powered, would probably
be very powerful and have almost unlimited range, but it would be less
maneuverable. The products of its exhaust might be radioactive and
therefore its operators would be reluctant to operate it above or
near the natives of the planet, or places that they frequented.
As they push away from the mother-ship the spacemen would be in
free-fall and would tend to "float" nearby until they turned theDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>