I'm sitting under a tree about 100 metres from the building at the centre of the old Naval Air Station at Moffett Field where the Admiral once had his office. There's a big flagpole with the Stars and Stripes and it's a glorious day – just a bit of misty haze that filters the deep blue of the sky. I'm hanging around for a couple of hours before my lift to the airport and my flight back to Sydney – the redeye that leaves at 2250 and arrives on the other side of the dateline at 0610 after adding a day to the date.
The contrast is extraordinary. The stark, bleakly indifferent ice age landscape on Devon Island with its savage beauty and its tiny wonderfully adapted wild flowers, its damp fog and its cloudbase that blends with your consciousness, the occasional sunshine through the exhilarating clarity of an almost unpolluted atmosphere – and the silence so deep that you can hear it – these things don't live in the same world as the crimson rose and the rampant daisies beside me. Yet they do – and that's the point – Mars (almost) on Earth.
A memorable three weeks rounded off yesterday by dinner with Pascal's asteroid team who are developing a plan to land humans on an asteroid and do some science….
And there I was interrupted in full hyperbolic tilt by a text from Pascal requiring me to front the Medical Review Board, Dr Cooper himself, no less. Noice!
And now I'm at SFO airport having spent a significant dollop of tolerance and an hour convincing the United check in staff that I am actually booked on my flight – I suspected that my earlier euphoria was premature and so it was. But I have a boarding pass - we'll see if it gets me on the plane!
I will try to summarise the 2010 HMP program in my next. Meantime all the photos are now on the website – just follow the earlier link.