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  • I had been researching Earth for a long time: looking at photographs, videos and other recordings, and pouring over descriptions from atlases and field guides, and stories from the Earthlings.

    But always from a distance. Now we are here on our first expedition to the surface, outside, being overwhelmed by the sheer complexity and richness of everything about us.

    The sun was going down quickly but there was so much to take in and explore. The freshness of the air, the smell of dried Chaparral. Orange lichen on a rocky outcrop; the wind whistling through an electricity pylon; the tiny ants that had gotten into my socks. The changing crepuscular light.

    We needed to get back to the rover before dark. We navigated by map: left around the communications tower, and then down through the gully, with Mountain Lions rustling and tracking us from the shadows, and then three deer by the rover, a mother, father and doe, grazing and happy.

    We made it!
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