Alternative History

POD: On 27th June 1991, scientists working at the Arecebo radio telescope on Puerto Rico discover a very large Kuiper Belt object had been displaced by another KBO's gravity and was moving into the solar system. It was designated KBO 496.

By the 7th July 1991 they have established that it is 60-70 Km in diameter.

By the 18th of August they have established that it will enter the inner solar system in 1997. It will very likely miss the Earth and be flung around the Sun. However, due to the close pass of the Sun, the exit trajectory is not known of KBO 496.

In May 1996 it is determined that the Kuiper Belt object will miss the Earth on its return trajectory. It was renamed from KBO 496 to Comet Deathstar (a competition named the object - the Star Wars fan accociation wins). Its final size is determined as 64.1 km wide, and they find out the object is made up of rock with about 30% ice, not iron as originally thought.

As Comet Deathstar passes around the Sun in early January 1997, many scientists and even amateur astronomers discover that the trajectory will cross Mars Orbit from 17th of July 1997 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Mars happens to be passing there at that time.

On July 4th 1997, the Mars Pathfinder probe landed on Ares Vallis, in a region called Chryse Planitia on Mars. By this time it is thought Comet Deathstar will hit Mars at about 9:15 AM 17th of July.

On the afternoon of 16th July 1997 the world's telescopes focus in on Mars. Comet Deathstar appears to be going 15.9 km per second, and slowing steadily.

On 17th July 1997, at 9:17 AM and 42 seconds, Comet Deathstar impacts Mars on the eastern flanks of Olympus Mons - the largest volcano in the solar system about 19 km from the central crater.

Mars Pathfinder gets a front row seat to the impact. However, it is destroyed 13 seconds after impact after getting hit by a large boulder thrown up by the crater forming.

In September 1997 Mars Global Surveyor (MGS), enters Martian orbit. It finds the entire globe is covered in massive dust storms, however the TES - the Thermal Emission Spectrometer instrument on board shows a massive 648 Km crater on the flanks of the volcano Olympus Mons, and the volcano has partially been destroyed, it also shows volcanic activity around the same area, which intrigues many astronomers.

Over the next six months MGS, uses the TES to detect massive volcanic activity beginning all over the Martian globe, it also detects a global temperature increase, and possible convection in the core which may re-organize the magnetic field which will become the strength of Mercury's by 2100.

In late 1999, the dust storm on Mars that had raged since the impact begins to settle out, scientists are amazed to see what has happened. There has been massive volcanic activity all over Mars. The atmospheric pressure and temperature has increased to a point where Carbon Dioxide at the south pole begins to sublimate slowly into the atmosphere.

By early 2001 almost all of the dust storms have settled. At the equator the maximum temperature has risen from about 5 degrees Celsius to above 10 degrees Celsius. Due to the increased surface atmospheric pressure, liquid water starts to form small streams and pools around the equator.

On 27th August 2001, President Bush, who been inaugurated, and Prime Minster Tony Blair announce a joint NASA and ESA venture to land humans on Mars by 2015.

On 14th May 2003, the 2001 Mars Odyssey probe takes pictures of the poles of Mars they show that they have began to slowly melt. At the equator, water is now forming rather large rivers, these flow north and begin to form lakes and ponds. The maximum temperatures rises to 12 Degrees Celsius.

It is also discovered that the atmospheric pressure at the lowest point on the surface has risen to roughly the same as at 26,000 feet on Earth (roughly the top of Mount Everest). Roughly 30-40 Kpa, it is found to be over 96% Carbon Dioxide with trace elements of Nitrogen (2.6%), Argon, Oxygen and importantly Water Vapor (1%) which has the same percentage as on Earth. The large amount of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere and the increased pressure a massive greenhouse effect has started to take place on Mars. Scientists announced that Mars will have an equator temperature above freezing for at least half year round by 2025.

2006, NASA and ESA announce that the landing site for the up coming Mars mission will land on the east end of Valles Marineris on the shores of a small lake that is forming there at Melas Chasma. They announce that it will be a long duration stay with the 8 man team staying for 18 months. The first modules of the Mars base will be launched in 2008, manned module will land early 2013.

Mars spring - 2007, the 2001 Mars Odyssey probe detects the first clouds made of water vapor in the northern hemisphere capable of producing precipitation. By the start of the Martin summer of 2007 water snow can be seen on the settling on the surface in the northern hemisphere. By Martian spring 2008 most of the northern hemisphere is starting to turn white with snow. Valles Marineris starts to get a river flowing in the canyon.

June 2008, the first modules of the Mars colony is launched, the habitat is called Arthur C. Clark and the water production module is called Percival Lowell.

September 2008, the next two modules, a command module called Neil Armstrong and a return module called Daedalus.

March 2009, the last module a greenhouse called Gia is launched.

Mars Spring 2009, snow that has fallen over the past two years is seen to not melt,it has built up to an estimated 7.5cm, drifting in some areas to 30cm deep. but this is predicted to start melting by 2015.

27th - 29th May 2010, modules Arthur C. Clark and Percival Lowell land on Mars, rovers driven from Earth connect them together.

6th - 10th December 2010, modules Neil Armstrong, Daedalus and Gia all land successfully, they are connected to the other modules by the rovers. The Base is now called Mars base.

21st January 2011 NASA and ESA announce the nationalities of the finalized crew of Mars colony, they are four Americans, three Russians, two British, and two Chinese.

22nd August 2012 - Mars Colony travel module (Jules Verne) lifts off from Cape Canaveral at 12.16pm.

7th July 2013, Jules Verne lands on Mars near Mars Base, all 11 crew step onto the surface at the same time at 8.15 PM GMT.

On the second day on Mars the base crew witness the first rainfall on Mars, though it is only short, sparse 10 minute shower of reddish sleet and rain. They notice the rain sweeps up sand causing there to be strange red mud surrounding the base after it finishes.

After 6 months NASA and ESA announce that genetically engineered blue-green algal mats can survive in the very cold and chemically strange surface waters of Mars. One month later it is announced that an accident on Mars has infected the newly forming oceans with the same blue-green algal mats (rumours surface shortly after the official announcement that it was done intentionally) within 3 years the entire ocean system on Mars have been weakly covered in blue-green algal mats, which are spreading rapidly and making floating algae blooms as well as structures similar to stomatalites found in low Oxygen lagoon systems on Earth.