--   By William Orr   --


I think I'll visit the moons of Jupiter, those mystic frozen worlds.

where time stands still, and it is said there is no life, just solid frozen crusts.

There are no bags for me to pack for the things I'd take along and I wouldn't need a rocket ship to blast me on my way.

All I need is my poetic power and in a breath, I'm there.

First, I'll visit Io, with its strange volcanoes
that look like odd sink holes.



As I neared , I could see its size, a bit smaller than our moon.

It cast a spherical shadow on Jupiter's clouds , far, far down below.




A strange and awesome sight it was, and bright, the color of brassey yellow.

I landed on a level plain with hills on the distant horizons.

There was only frozen sulfur flakes that covered all the ground,  


a yellow expanse of the crusty stuff without a stirring breeze, for there was no atmosphere with oxygen and the other gas we breath.

I approached an erupting volcano and I could feel the change in heat for in other places the temperature was as cold as minus one-eight-five.

It was erupting molten sulfur that rolled out onto the plain and spewed a vapor into the sky that froze to sulfur rain. and caused a storm of yellow snow that drifted down below.

I went down below into the mantle of sodium and melted sulfur that covered all the inner core of silicates and potassium and iron.

There was no life at all on Io, nor had there ever been. Just a cold and yellow ball of sulfur left when forming up the system.



Next I visited Europa, smaller still than Io but somewhat not so dense with its light brown surface and white-like patches some would say are mesas, it was marked with random streaky stripes that covered all the surface;

there is no end to the different forms in the universe of matter.

I saw a few impact craters but not as old as on our moon For all the ancient craters had disappeared into the frozen spongy surface.

The lines and strips I saw were cracks along the frozen water crust. I went down into the chasm cracks and deep into the water ice below.

The deeper I went, the warmer it was until finally there was liquid water.

And the sun shown bright down through all the cracks and light was there to see.

Into this buried ocean I searched throughout for signs of life. Just near the cracks where misty light bloomed out, the water was twenty degrees,



I found a bit of organic stuff, slimy and colored green.

With my mind, I probed the growth to see if it was living and then I felt the tingle of life, a tremble;
there was something here alive.

Not much to see but there it was, just drifting there about, just floating in the water.

Could this small bit of gooey slime become a complex being? Perhaps in a few more million years, it would grow some arms and legs.

For that's how life begins, a few cells, some light, water and some chemicals.

Then I moved out further, and there above the water ocean about thirty miles in height, just below the solid ice of the luminous surface crust was a vast expanse of atmosphere, and rippling water as far as I could see.

And there was oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and some hydrogen. All the things to make a world of breathing moving, living things.

I'll come back later, some other time and look for primitive life. Perhaps there's something there that's more advanced that could even talk to me.



Then I moved out further away from planet Jupiter to Ganymede and Callisto

About the size of the planet Mercury and made of one-half water ice, There was no atmosphere on either moon and they're cold as minus one-one-zero.

I could see that both were filled with craters, as old as the solar system.

There's been no change upon these moons since first they formed of dust and gas.

The expanse of ice is an awesome scene and stretches out forever Just blue and white with meteorite dust covering here and there.

Beneath the crust, I ventured down on both the iced packed moons.

There was only ice for miles beneath, and not a degree of warmth.

There was no life upon these moons nor would there ever be.

---William Orr---


Image Credits: NASA Galileo and Voyager images.


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