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Submitted on
June 8, 2011
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Ice and Smoke- Enceladus by MikeDoscher Ice and Smoke- Enceladus by MikeDoscher
Even now, the outer planets and their satellites hold many questions within themselves. More than once, the faint glimmer of light in the wrong spot has triggered lifetimes of exploration and fruitful research. Nature yet holds the deepest of her secrets to be teased out little by little on the ice of silent worlds.

Here we see a survey team near the equator of Enceladus, a moon of Saturn. Normally, drillships like this are used as a sort of flying oil rig. They tap underground pockets of light hydrocarbons on the outer moons, pumping them to automated cracking and storage complexes which cook them up to ethylene and heavier molecules. These in turn are usually built up to polymers or fuels.

As deployed here, the ships are taking core samples of the icy crust of this moon. The cryovolcanos of the equator spew water ice into the distant sunlight, and leave a thin glaze upon the surface of this airless place. This ancient ice carries within it hints of not only the history of Enceladus, but also of the deeper mysteries lying at the bottom of the Saturnine gravity well- Impact organics, hints of heavier elements, and all the dust of the young solar system. Overlaying all is a thin film of aerosolized steel and fissionables- memories of the Minute War.

The pressure of the water against the crust is considerable here- As the aging drillships 'Clear Pick' and 'Zib IV' penetrate the crust, microfractures in the ice will vent water vapor up the borehole, coating the ships in frozen jets of frost. By the time the survey is complete, the whole workings will look like a faerie castle, exploding in glittering shards upon final liftoff.
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RagdollRalph Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Where is Sam Rockwell :)
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012  Professional General Artist
Probably looking for a hairbrush. XD
Sagittarius-A-star Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Neat illustration!! So, what exactly is the background universe these craft exist in? We're exploring and exploiting the outer planets and their moons, that much is clear, but are we still confined to this solar system or is there any form of star travel? Even if the humans haven't built any manned starships, they could launch robotic probes, especially since A.I. is available. With so much conflict in the solar system, so political groups might even be willing to risk attempting to escape the solar system in a STL generation ship or sleeper ship... :katana: :sushi:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2012  Professional General Artist
The setting is one where there isn't (yet) any sort of breakthrough in interstellar travel, and human activity is still confined to the solar system. The only real magic I'm using is the presence of cheap commodity fusion power. Two weeks to Mars at one gee. There are about 200 years of improvement to material engineering and most other areas, but there's no true AIs or energy shields. There are things that they *call* AIs within the setting, but these are either scripted network systems or biological material that's been adapted. Essentially, it's an exploration of blue collar space in the bridge between now and someday.
themightyjagrafess Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2011
Simply awesome.
Regulus36 Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2011  Professional General Artist
Yeah it's Enceladus :D you don't see this moon very much ([link] hehe :D) Sweet pic, i love the idea of the vapor condensing on the structures and then getting blasted off, makes for some great visuals :thumbsup:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2011  Professional General Artist
I had become obsessed with the 'Song of Roland' when I did this, and then discovering one of the regions of the planet I was considering had a region called 'Roncevaux Terra', the setting was pretty much a done deal, :)

Thank you, I'm glad you like the details. I think that anything, even as extraordinary as space exploration, seems more real and interesting when peppered with the tiny peculiarities of a normal life.
DiamonEyes Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2011
My favorite natural satellite in the Solar System! :woohoo: Who would've thought that water can exist in liquid form all the way out there on such a tiny moon! :jawdrop: Check the recent discoveries that just happened over the past couple months. The "Tiger Strips" are much, MUCH hotter than anyone ever expected, and it appears that Enceladus's water may "rain" on Staurn itself! Wonderful piece of art for a wondrous moon! :iconbadassplz:
SolarDragon Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2011
Excellent design!
bgr Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2011
Love it.. great scene.. very nice lighting and vibe :)
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