No one—not even Matt—could accuse his mission partner Grant of being a lousy shot. The smoke encrusted black hole in what had been Matt’s PTT, his sole remaining link to Mission Control outside of the lander, was proof enough of that. The tangy odor of the electrical burn singed the hair in his nostrils, even inside the thin environmental suit he wore.
That was bad news.
His suit was probably punctured as well, which meant his supply of oxygen was dwindling at a faster rate than it normally would. What he didn’t have time to inhale was pouring out of the hole in his suit and into the moon’s atmosphere, where it was of no use to him. It wouldn’t be long before the moon’s poison atmosphere crept in and entirely depleted the supply. That meant he didn’t have long to live.
That was worse news.
Earth scientists had guessed that the thin atmosphere of this desert moon contained carbon dioxide as its primary compound so explorers would not be able to breathe in it without an external supply or manufacture of oxygen. There also was, they thought, strong evidence of some other yet-unknown molecule swirling about in the dust storms that scarred the moon’s surface on a regular basis. Thus the environmental suits. The WGPSN eventually named this place Psamathe, because they didn’t want it confused with the other moon called Nereid, even though this one fit the description of the mythical figure better. Matt typically just referred to the place as Neptune’s butthole.
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