Author : Andrew Pang
The global media sighed at NASA’s attempt to laugh off trillions of dollars worth of international effort. Its called The L.O.F.T. [Lot of Floating Trash]. The Japanese first encountered it in 2011 at the Second Lagrange point, an area in space where gravitational forces seem checked. The Solar C probe was sent to observe its effect for commercial satellites. Instead of gently slowing to a stationary position, Solar C ceased transmitting. It happens I suppose. But other probes encountered the same problem, always at the L2 Point.
By 2022 another unmanned probe was sent specifically to investigate and found a three hundred meter transparent orb, scratched and dented by bits of floating solar panel and tungsten plating. The orb shifted. It changed shape, from spherical to cuboid, then to pyramidal and to rhomboid. The world hushed. Childish excitement gripped entire nations as the expectation of heavenly guests spiraled.
The gathering of probe after expensive probe began. Observatories around the world focused in on the mysterious object. It was difficult to see, laser topography simply refracted through the objects glassy surface. It seemed impervious to all the drilling and laser mass spectrography. Seemingly detecting this problem, it obligingly became opaque like mother of pearl. No sign of mechanical moving parts, no transmissions apparently sent or received, no heat signature. Yet it morphed continuously, ever more complicated and at Prime Number intervals, one second, two, five, seven, eleven, thirteen. After innumerable quasi-rhomboids and tetra-dodecahedra, scientists were puzzled to see several totally new shapes believed not to be possible in 3-Dimensional Euclidean space.
2027, and my how attention spans have shortened. The world grew weary of the ineffectual rubix cube in space. The LOFT now drew only the esoteric navel gazing sorts. As though sensing these people’s apathy, the shapes became simple again and the intervals changed. Sphere, six minutes, Cube, twenty eight minutes, Trapazoid, eight hours and twenty two minutes. Perfect Number intervals. Attention grew again, as the object became to blink like a faint pulsar in the night sky. Worries grew whether it was going to explode, just like a pulsar and douse the world in radiation.
2034 and a joint international convention finally approved a manned expedition. The world grew impatient and vaguely paranoid of the the object, sat one and a half million kilometers away surrounded by the most expensive clutter of mechanical parts, probes and bits in history. “The Lofty L.O.F.T.” the more sensible broad sheets called it. They had a point, at ten thousand kilometers it was clear exactly how much junk had been launched at the object, it was almost completely obscured by debris. Closer to five thousand kilometers. The blinking light stopped. A calm and collected voice spoke over the flabbergast shuttle crew: “About time you came in person.”