Meteoritic SOS

Dr. Caroline Smith and colleagues have collected meteorites from Australia’s Nullabor desert, with a BBC film crew on their tail. The final shot was of the geologists walking into the distance, but as she did so, she spotted another meteorite and stopped to collect it. She described how the fate of such an object was to be sliced in half ‘to let the aliens out’. She thought she was joking, but a voice from within the meteorite tells its own story:

A long time ago, on the Nullabor Plain,
A shower of meteorites fell down like rain;
And ever since then quite unnoticed they’ve lain,
Until fairly recently. Let me explain.

Though my home planet, Mars, has ‘canals’ and a ‘face’*,
It’s really a most inhospitable place:
Ultraviolet and cosmic rays blast it from space
Through our thin atmosphere. It was tough for our race.

That’s why we’d evolved into creatures so small
That no Earthling, unaided, could see us at all –
We lived inside rocks. Things were cramped, I recall,
With a lattice of atoms for bedroom and hall.

But we’d seen how an impact, imparting a shock
To the crust of our planet, could break up a block
And send into space a huge fountain of rock;
Was that how we’d start a new Martian epoch?

Our question was answered: the answer was Yes!
And that’s how we came down to Earth (did you guess?)
In a deep hibernation, to offset the stress.
But we hoped we’d be found in an eon or less.

Few Earthlings have passed since our waiting began,
So imagine our joy when the BBC man
Said, ‘Just walk down the track, then its all in the can!’,
And you found us and took us to your caravan.

Now we wait for release. But you’ll miss us unless
Your microscopes carefully search each recess.
We might look like ‘aliens’, that much we’ll confess;
But please don’t give up . . . SOS . . . SOS . . .

* See Earth to Mars

[Photo of Dr. Iain Stewart: BBC]
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