In the wake of the Mars landing, CNN has published an article – well, really a short piece of fiction – by SF author Greg Bear on what it might be like to live on the Red Planet. Bear, of course, is the author of numerous novels, including – appropriately enough – Moving Mars:
Every now and then, I spend time on Mars. I dig my naked toes into the fine, red-orange soil, watch how it clings to my skin — and feel an incipient itch. The iron-rich dust is pretty alkaline. The air — or lack of it — also makes me itch. Pretty soon, I’ll break out in what the locals call “vacuum rose,” as the blood boils in capillaries beneath my skin, because the air on Mars is pretty nearly a vacuum.
That doesn’t mean the atmosphere can’t kick up a planet-girdling storm when the weather is just right. Right now, as evening approaches, the sky is a dusty pink, tending to brown-black in the east. The sun is a brilliant disk in the west, one-third smaller than I’m used to on Earth and not nearly as warming. Feathery layers of dust fan out around the lowering sun, and a few smeared-out ice-crystal clouds glint silvery gray, but the rest of the sky is clear, and the stars above stand out brighter and sharper than night on Mauna Kea.