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Planet in sight

15 May 2014

Introductory story for primary school pupils. It should be read before the pupils start playing the game.

Millions of kilometres from Earth, the spaceship Explora is speeding through the universe. It is quiet on board. The three passengers are asleep. Suddenly, a bell starts to ring in the control room. A text appears on one of the computer screens: ‘planet_in_sight’.
Sara sits straight up in bed. ‘Huh? What was that?’ She looks through the porthole and sees that they are slowly but surely drawing near an unknown planet.
‘Wow. I would like to take a look around there!’ Sara cries. She wakes up the other two passengers.
‘It’s only 14 minutes past five!’ Sophie grumbles. ‘I am entitled to another 76 minutes of sleep.’ But then she sees Sara standing at the porthole.
‘Come look, it’s beautiful!’ says Sara. ‘I see an ocean. And hills and a river. And all that green stuff – can those be plants?’
Sophie’s eyes begin to shine. ‘It is lovely, isn’t it.’ Finally, even Milan wakes up. When he looks through the porthole and sees the strange planet, his mouth falls open in amazement. ‘It looks like there is life on that planet. Aliens…’ ‘Let’s go there. We are going to land,’ says Sara. The other two look at her in astonishment. ‘But isn’t that dangerous?’ Sophie asks. ‘I remember that a group of French astronauts disappeared in 2007 when they…’. 'Nonsense!’ Sara replies. ‘Have you forgotten that we are scientists? The purpose of our trip is to discover an unknown planet. So let’s go explore!’
‘Whatever we do, we better reduce speed now or we will be in real trouble,’ says Milan.
They get to work straight away in the control room. Sophie carefully navigates the Explora closer to the new planet. They keep the spaceship suspended a safe
distance above the surface of the planet. They get out their binoculars.

Yes, there are plants growing there! And look, I see animals too. We have discovered alien life!’ Milan says. Sara grins at him. ‘Hey, I see animals with a sort of shell. I’ll call them shellbeasts for now. Have you two noticed those creatures there? Do you think they built all those houses?’ ‘Wait a minute,’ Milan replies. ‘What makes you so sure that they are houses? They could be very unusual trees. We need more information before we can say for sure, don’t you think, Sophie?’ ‘You are right,’ says Sophie. ‘The Mayas in South America had all sorts of buildings that turned out to be temples, not houses. Let’s take some notes so that we don’t forget everything later on.’ Sophie takes her laptop and starts typing. ‘There seem to be different species of animals here, and different varieties of plants.’ ‘They have paint too – have you noticed?’ Milan points to one of the creatures, who is painting yellow shapes.‘Maybe there is iron in the soil,’ says Sophie. ‘We use that on Earth to make yellow paint.’ ‘OK, we are about to land!’ says Sara, and grasps the spaceship’s steering wheel. They land the Explora carefully in an open area. They have arrived. Sophie takes her laptop, a thermometer and a few other items and they go outside. Now that the engines have been switched off, it is suddenly eerily quiet.
But then they hear a chorus of voices crying ‘Pi! Pi! Pi!’ They see the creatures that they had spotted from the spaceship emerge from the woods from all different directions. The creatures make a sign with their fingers – a sort of triangle. Sara carefully raises both her hands into the air. Nothing happens. The creatures stop a short distance away. Then one of them steps forward and says to Sara ‘Yanna Mundion. Apa lo bozo?’

Landscape of Mundus

Map of Mundus


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