We’d just settled down in Mamgu’s front room to watch Pobl y Cwm when a load of interference came on the telly. Morris had just got up to give it a whack when this horrible face appeared through all the crackles and started making a noise like an octopus or something. He looked proper upset and started banging on the inside of the screen and was clearly shouting at us. His face would have been red if Mamgu had a colour telly. Unfortunately, none of us understands alien underwater speak so at first we were confused. After a while though, we got the gist of what he was trying to say. Apparently, his name is Tharg and he’s the foreign minister for the undersea ice aliens of Europa. And it seems, our Dilwyn has eaten their equivalent of singer Susan Boyle and they’re all very upset about it.
Anyway, unless we send them our Susan Boyle to make up for their loss, pronto, or 3 Cheryl Coles and a Roger Whittaker, then they’re going to invade earth.
By this point all this shouting and waving was meithering Mamgu, so we switched over to watch the end of Emmerdale instead – we can always watch the Pobl y Cwm repeat on Sunday.
For millennia mankind has wondered at the possibility of life existing elsewhere in our universe. The visions of H.G. Wells may have fallen short in so much as Mars isn’t actually overrun by little green men or indeed, so far, even by microbial life-forms and is likely a barren desert. But, January 2011, and The Welsh Space Agency can now confirm, via our Cymru III mission to Callisto (then Europa) that life does indeed exist on a world other than our own.
And this must rank as the most astounding scientific discovery ever – certainly since the discovery that eating past-their-sell-by curried eggs causes tectonic flatulence.
This astonishing sequence of photographs on the right shows the moments of revelation. Mission Deputy Commander Dilwyn Griffiths has bored a test hole through the icy crust of Europa into the liquid ocean below and into which he is about to lower a probe to test for salinity, temperature and relative density. To avoid contaminating this pristine alien ocean, all the equipment has been wiped down with a hanky prior to use.
The first photo shows Dilwyn adjusting the test cable prior to lowering into the bore hole.
The second photo shows the deflection in the line tensioning rod which clearly indicates something in the deep has interacted with the equipment at the end of the line.
Picture 3 shows Dilwyn after he has hauled up this life-form which is completely new to science. It appears to have been attracted to the cheese which Dilwyn attached to the test probe.
The creature survived removal from its habitat, responded to light when brought to the surface and seemed relatively unfazed by the transition from liquid to gaseous environment. Dilwyn held it carefully to avoid hurting it while he examined it further, and amazingly the animal made eye-contact with our man.
It’s tentacles are clearly highly tactile like those of an octopus and it seemed to exhibit signs of intelligence as it probed Dilwyn’s spacesuit. Shortly, it attempted communication. Gesticulating up at the starry sky and then down to the hole from whence it came. It then tapped out a series of numbers on Dilwyn’s arm which turned out to be all prime numbers. It was clearly trying to tell us something about it and the world in which it lived.
At gas mark 5 for 11/2 hours and with a gravy made up from its giblets, it made for a very passable, if slightly gamey, chicken casserole.
Almost unbelievable. But this is the longest duration ever that an astronaut has wandered off on a reconnaissance expedition on an alien world only to be completely forgotten about by his ground crew. Last March we watched as Dilwyn disappeared over the horizon on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. We did try to locate him, at first, but then things just seemed to get in the way… Uncle Rhodri had a really good win on the horses, Mamgu got her new shopmobility scooter thing, Myfanwy* went on heat and we all had a really good laugh at the World Cup.
He seemed a little unsteady on his feet when he got back. But that’s hardly surprising when you consider his arduous trek. Otherwise though, he does appear to be none the worse for his circumnavigation effort. In fact, it looks like he might have put on a couple of pounds.
And that bottle of Monty’s Sunshine certainly wasn’t in the ship’s manifesto for Cymru III so his foraging trip couldn’t have been without success. We’re not entirely sure what he took with him in his carrier bag when he left, but we doubt it could have been enough to sustain him for this length of time.
Anyway, he seemed to need a bit of a lie down when he got back. We’ll debrief him proper when he gets up.
When last we looked, Dilwyn & Megan had set off into the vast frozen landscape of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, in the search of food and drink – more specifically, beer and pork-scratchings.
But becoming concerned now for the whereabouts of our space crew, we dusted down the WASA refractor telescope which we keep by the skips at the back of “Cig y Llan” butcher’s shop to have a look for them. And after much scouring of the planet’s surface, at maximum zoomification, we finally spotted them. Dilwyn with a bag full of something and Megan traipsing alongside. Unfortunately, both clearly heading in the wrong direction.
We have no means of communication with them and so are thinking about launching a rescue mission. Megan is a very capable Second in Command of a Welsh spaceship, and could easily have been promoted ahead of her human counterpart. And 2IC of an interplanetary spaceship for a mongrel sheepdog is not bad going, when you consider that Lassie only ever got to be in charge of a submarine (“Lassie nukes the Russkies” MGM films, 1965 and also “For Christ’s sake Lassie, stop bloody barking”, 1968 and “Why didn’t you go when you were outside, Lassie?” 1969).
But really, we want Megan back here on earth. Her instinct for herding sheep is still pretty much intact and we can get £75 a pup were we to breed from her. She just needs to lose her taste for sheep throats and we’ll be quids in.
We’re quite sure it’s just an oversight, but Dilwyn appears to have forgotten to come back from his expeditionette to find a Costcutters (with offy). Maybe he’s lost his way, or maybe he met up with some alien life form and is busy being an ambassador for Welshmankind.
Our only point of contact is with our WASA Europacam which miraculously survived the landing, is positioned at the edge of the landing crater but is presently showing a blank screen.
More news as we have it. Until then, here is some music.
Since Cymru III gently smashed into the surface of Europa the other day, the crew have wasted little time getting to grips with setting up the first Welsh base on another planet. Megan ran round and round in circles, barking endlessly at falling flakes of frozen methane, and Dilwyn rocked back and forth with his head in his hands.
But once he realised that all the beer, buckfast and even the furniture polish was destroyed along with the rest of the ship, including the island organic chocolate limes (from Mull) he knew it was time to take decisive action.
Without further ado, he rescued the re-useable onboard co-op carrier bag and set off in search of a Costcutter with an off-licence somewhere amidst the vast frigid landscape of this alien moon.
We’re now starting to get the early details about the touchdown itself – (touchdown, of course, being used in the loosest possible sense)Only about an hour late Dilwyn and Meg pushed all the furniture to the front of the ship to tip the craft towards the surface to start the descent as planned.
From there things all happened a bit quicker than we expected. Cymru III then accelerated to about 800mph in a perpendicular descent to smash into the surface ice some 1,100 miles from the proposed landing site – which is pretty close for us though.
The insurance company did start to quote all legalese stuff at us when we first rang them to claim for a new spaceship.
“The definition of accidental damage is that which occurs suddenly as a result of an unexpected and non-deliberate external action. blah blah blah”
Yes, we know smashing into an unknown planet’s surface in a glorified grain silo might not be describable as a non-deliberate act. But it wasn’t our fault nobody had told us about re-entry friction, and ballistics and all that stuff. And we certainly didn’t intend it to catch fire and start to burn up on re-entry.
Anyway, they were very good about it and have decided that from an insurance point of view, Cymru III is a write off and they will pay the £325 (less £250 excess). Lucky we bought fully-comp.
With Cymru III on the last few orbits before turning nose-ward for the surface of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, we’re all very excited here at WASA Towers. None more so than our in-house car-parking space measurement executive, Morris Spoon. Seen here giving Dilwyn, Meg and the mission a big thumbs up before heading off up the big wooden hills to bed.
Morris wears eye protection to sleep on account of the relative fecundity and abundance of insects and other wildlife in his attic bedroom. He can be seen here wearing the special commerative tee-shirt Mamgu knitted for his birthday. And of course, his bedtime Bovril.
Naturally, this being a first for Welsh Aeronautical and Space something beginning with A, we’re all on tenterhooks as the relative distance between our craft, Cymru III and Europa’s icy surface decreases towards zero. We’re also quite worried about the alarming speed at which the twain shall meet. But we’re modestly optimistic they can make it to the surface in a low number of pieces. But if not, Uncle Rhodri has baggsied Dilwyn’s car.
So here we are, the last few orbits before the much-awaited plummet towards the surface of Europa. The space scopes on board Cymru III are zeroed in on the chosen landing site – a spot about 200 metres north-east of the southern cliff face in the ‘arch’ of the surface feature we called “bigfoot”.
It takes nearly 4 hours for our craft to do each orbit of the planet and so timing will be critical when it comes to the descent. There will still be forward momentum to take into account when Dilwyn and Meg rush to the front of the ship with all the on-board furniture, winalot sacks and cases of Buckfast to tip the balance and nose the craft downwards towards destruction or glory*
The angle at which Cymru III slices through the thin Europan atmosphere might also be critical to the vertical speed and rate of descent. But we have only just thought of that and so are relying on the walls of the ice chasm to contain the blast and confine the debris to a small area.
This second photo, taken at higher magnification, to examine the crash/landing site* shows an unexpected bright yellow object at 7 o’clock position to the scope graticule. It’s regular outline piqued our curiousity and so we telautographed Dilwyn to have a closer look with the telescope.
The image that he faxed back astounded us. For it looked exactly like an everyday common or garden council grit bin. And when he adjusted the scope to maximum zoomification we saw that it was indeed one of our very own Denbighshire County Council grit bins!