Spread across the ridge was Wisting Base: a handful of brightly coloured, connected cylinders huddled together on Amundsen’s surface. The main base was a muted grey, dusted in moondust. Separated from the modules were a collection of scientific stations; these were wrapped in reflective yellow foil that shone in the sunlight.
There was a habitat module, the largest feature of the base. After the module carried by Wurundjeri had descended to the surface, the crew disconnected the two ends and – using rovers – dragged those ends apart. In the space between was erected a thick, pressurised tent, girdled by ribs like a concertina. From the ribs, cables were fastened to pitons driven into the surface. Now the entire module was perhaps fifty meters long, and contained the living quarters, CLLS system, and workshop. A high-gain dish rose from one end and faced Fram.
At one end of the habitat was an airlock with a ramp leading down to the surface. Layered across the ramp was a sheet of moondust and, where the ramp met the surface, the thin regolith had been disturbed and the pale rock underneath exposed. Flanking the airlock were two smaller cargo pods, their caps painted yellow, solar panels atop their upper surface. Scattered seemingly at random around the habitat were a number of smaller modules, connected to the habitat by pressurised passageways. These smaller modules were crammed with supplies, equipment, instruments. Strips of solar panels again covered their upper surfaces, and small portholes studded their sides.
Several rovers were parked in the lee of one such equipment module; some pointed toward the habitat and others away, one was parked at a slight angle, and trails of lighter regolith snaked away from the parking lot. Scattered not far from the rovers were half a dozen prefabricated sheets, left over from the assembly of the base and discarded.
A hundred or so meters from Wisting Base was the Ascent/Descent Stage. Radial lines spread out from the landed stage, like the streaked ejecta of a ray crater – here the descent engine had blasted away the regolith. Two hemispheres of the payload shroud were abandoned on either side of the lander, and a generator was connected to the upper ascent stage. The airlock door remained open.
Fram dominated the sky above Wisting Base. The brown-grey northern hemisphere of Fram filled the sky, from the horizon to zenith. The surfaces of the two worlds were so incredibly close, and from the smaller Amundsen, it seemed another world was inverted and folded back to form a ceiling. Fram’s hemisphere visibly curved and dust storms moved elegantly across its face. The rising and setting light of Alpha A and B picked out the craters strung across Fram’s northern hemisphere, and at night the lights of the Colonies and Port Mayflower could be seen.
Rising from Amundsen’s horizon to meet Fram was the inner ring, separated into two bands by the Sverdrup Division. Occasionally, Sverdrup appeared and slowly worked its way across the sky; this was an illusion, for it was really Amundsen that lapped the slower Sverdrup.
And, every few hours, Wurundjeri swept across the sky – now composed solely of the spent FDS and the Greenglass, connected by the needle-thin central stack…