The Great Escape
The Martian Festival

Or, A Pretty Realistic & Informative Look Focused On Olympic Leaps.

I wrote the following over a decade ago to post in the USENET newsgroup sci.astro. I had hoped to start all sorts of discussion and whatnot, but all that happened was that one reply came back to me. Sigh. As is Well Known, the best way to inspire a net.discussion is either to say something that is obviously wrong (and get flamed) or state a belief that disagrees with other people's (and get flamed). I tried again a couple years later, and got one reply, but it was from someone else. At least they said my posting was great.

MacDonald Observatory produced a radio spot called Star Date, and for a while they also posted the script to sci.astro. That had stopped a little while before I wrote this, so I thought I'd follow their pattern. I guess you'd have to call it a parody, but I thought of as a salute too. The scripts ran something like this:

Hirise orbiter picture of Deimos in 2009 The Martian Festival is held each vernal equinox. More about the events on Deimos -- after this.

March 32, 2187: The Great Escape

What good is a moon that's 15 km long - on it's longest axis? About the only use found so far is athletics. For several Earth decades now, Martian immigrants have been finding fascinating ways to take advantage of Deimos' low gravity. On each Martian vernal equinox, the whole solar system turns it attention to the Great Escape.

This year's Escape has several events:

The officials in charge of the Great Escape report that they have selected a new company to provide rescue beacons to the participants. Along with several more recovery vehicles, they are confident that last year's debacle will not be repeated.

Script by Ric Werme, content by Werme and Dave Spain. (c) 2187 McAuliffe Observatory, Olympus Mons, Mars


Vital statistics of Deimos:


As I noted at the top, I had hoped to inspire a lot of discussion about this, but no one worked through some of the math. It was a pity, as I uncovered an interesting relationship I never knew about before. When I wrote this, I couldn't find the density of Deimos, so I substituted a better known density, one known to four places, Earth's. When I discovered the period of a low orbit arond Deimos was about 90 minutes, I went off and discovered that density determines the orbital period. Radius cancels out! I have since seen a value for Deimos' density, I assume derived from the passage of a Viking orbiter. Not surprisingly, it's less than the 5.521 above, but I've never thought through the implications to my story. As is, the 90 minute orbit is really too long to make the Great Escape an exciting event.

Contact Ric Werme or return to his home page.

Last updated 1999 August 6.