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The Mountain of Eternal Light (SRC2013)



 Genre: Ambient

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Part 1 of my two-part submission to the Space Race Challenge 2013, with a short sci-fi story outline to go along with it. Part 2 is called "Incident at Malapert," and should be posted just above this one.

I came across an idea put forth not too long ago concerning specific sites for establishing a Moon base, and I thought it was interesting. The challenges are immense. So, in thinking about it a little, and reading CreepyPasta (and CrappyPasta) stories on the internet with my son, I decided to try to put the music over a tentative sci-fi backdrop, set about 100 years in the future, an industrial complex near the Southern Lunar Pole. This first part covers the day-to-day activities and the colonists' interaction with their environment, which many returning employees characterize as a sort of crowded loneliness with constant disorientation. However, everything seems to be as normal as could be expected. But then something happens. Part 2 picks up where this one leaves off.

I doubt that I achieved "digital and organic harmony" (whatever that is). Just my usual approach.

Thanks for listening, and thanks to the organizers of the SRC. Always fun.

Freesound attributions:

Radio static by clesquir
all units proceed to your post-assignments by klankbeeld

Lunapedia, 2103, June 22, "Malapert" [excerpts]


Day gives way to night for us Earthlings, a consequence of Earth's rotation about its axis. On average, night and day last about 12 hours, unless you happen to live near one of the poles. Because the Earth's spin axis is tilted at 23.4 degrees to the normal vector of the ecliptic plane [2], there are places where the Sun never sets (or never rises) over the course of 24 hours --- within the Arctic Circle and the Antarctic Circle. At the poles, the day-night cycle proceeds on a six-month timetable. But even the seemingly endless day at Earth's poles ends, transitioning to a seemingly endless night, as Earth traverses its orbit around the Sun.

There is no place on Earth's surface where it is ALWAYS day or ALWAYS night. But within our solar system, there are places where the day never ends. They are called Peaks of Eternal Light (PEL) [3]. The most well known PEL is on our Moon, a place called Malapert Mountain (named after the Belgian Jesuit astronomer and anti-Copernican Charles Malapert), rising to over 5,000 meters, located 120 km from the Southern Lunar Pole. Because the Moon's spin axis is tilted by only 1.5 degrees from the ecliptic, the rotational variation of the line of sight to the Sun is not as drastic as on Earth [4]. But in fact, Malapert Mountain is NOT illuminated 100% of the time (e.g., lunar eclipses cast Malapert into shadow for periods lasting up to eight hours), but for historical reasons, Malapert is listed as a PEL. (Ed: Recall that a "day" on the Moon is the same length as a Moon month, i.e., the Moon is "phase-locked" to Earth, which gives rise to the "two-weeks-day-two-weeks-night" phenomenon at most latitudes. Note that the tilt of the Moon's spin axis is independent of its orbital inclination with respect to the ecliptic plane.)


Along the sight line from Malapert, intersecting the South Lunar Pole, lies the Shackleton Crater, a valley of eternal darkness, technically referred to as a "permanently shadowed region" [7] --- the cliffs encircling the crater block the line of sight to the Sun and Earth regardless of the spin/orbit configuration. An abundant water ice store is known to exist in the subsurface layers of the crater [8].

Malapert Mountain was chosen as the first site for a semi-permanent Moon colony [9]. On Malapert, the Sun is virtually always in view, which enables continuous solar energy collection, and eliminates the need for a staff-intensive nuclear power plant. So is Earth ALWAYS in view, eliminating the need to maintain a fleet of maintenance-intensive communications orbiters. There is water nearby. Unlike regions nearer the equator, the temperature variation is minimized (day/night temperatures range from >100 C to < -150 C over most of the Moon's surface), mitigating material stresses to structures and vehicles. Mining of the fusion energy reactant Helium-3 at Shackleton, where an impressive 90 ppb content was measured in a series of earlier autonomous survey missions [10], was cited as a key financial driver [11].


Construction began in 2082, funded by an international consortium of the 22 (then-)spacefaring nations and a host of multi-national corporations, collectively known as the Malapert Initiative (MI) [15]. After 15 years of construction, involving 190 LTV (Lunar Transport Vehicle) deliveries, the first phase of the installation was judged only a qualified success, with water excavation and processing at Shackleton reaching just 30% of projections, whereas Helium-3 mining efforts have been reported to be "proceeding to schedule" [16]. Communication networks have performed to specifications. The development of bioregenerative support systems (hydroponic growth chambers) has met with some success, and provides about 1/3 of the residents' diet. Medical issues, possibly stemming from prolonged confinement and low gravity, are a growing concern at Malapert, but evaluations outside the MI have had to rely on anecdotal information. The facility currently employs 300-400 semi-permanent residents (Malapert Initiative HQ, Apr. 2102, Beijing), typically assigned to 12-24-month terms of service, with plans to double the capacity over the next 10-20 years, contingent on improvements to the water supply and increased CO2/O2 reprocessing efficiency. Spikes in the base population occur, depending on the level of construction activity. For example, over 700 workers were present for a three-month period in 2090 during construction of the so-called Shackleton Highway [17]. A "mock-up" of the entire facility (except the road network), was completed in 2074 by the MI in the Chilean Atacama, which continues to serve as a training simulator for future Malapert staff [18].


As of March, 2106, in addition to dozens of construction vehicles, the facility maintained 12 Mitsui shuttle landcraft, and 3 prototype Helium-3 detector/distiller crawlers, known as "crackers," manufactured by Soloviev Labs. The Helium-3 matrix is packaged for lunar orbital insertion using a maglev railgun assembly [20], and returned to Earth orbit via the radiation-hardened Luna Camelback Fleet [21]. The extension of mining operations to the Shoemaker Crater is in the planning stage. Initial plans for a permanent landing/launching site have been postponed indefinitely.


----------- update/Aug20/2106/PES[VER++/JJ] -----------

On August 9, 2106, a site-wide communications malfunction of unspecified cause occurred at the Malapert Mountain facility. Contact has yet to be re-established. Two Earth-Moon supply missions falling into the usual scheduling cycle, arrived four and seven days, respectively, after loss of contact with Malapert. Both spacecraft were declared lost, with mission experts citing "loss of critical function." Tracking and data relay were evidently in good order until final approach. Further supply missions have been put on hold. "Rescue" missions are reputedly scheduled, but security measures, including secrecy, have gone into effect. Rumors continue to circulate, but they have yet to be confirmed. An unnamed representative of the MI has offered only that "There's been an incident at Malapert."
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Uploaded: Nov 02, 2013 - 05:48:23 PM
Last Updated: Nov 02, 2013 - 06:03:13 PM Last Played: May 27, 2019 - 11:43:56 AM
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alackbass said 2148 days ago (November 2nd, 2013)
"digital and organic harmony"
I would say you did. You included some interesting and quite beautiful harmonies and chord sequences.
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Ex_Silentio said 2143 days ago (November 7th, 2013)
Hi, Andrew
Thanks for coming by to listen to and comment on my simple offering. Much appreciated.
Check out my latest song called Submerged
peacepiano said 2148 days ago (November 2nd, 2013)
Part 1
Spacey. This must be what it is like to be on the moon.
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Ex_Silentio said 2143 days ago (November 7th, 2013)
I think the point is that we would all love to set foot on the Moon, if we could, but that no normal person could stand it for long. We humans are not evolved for it. That's my claim. Anyway, thanks for the comment.
Check out my latest song called Submerged
SpaceRace_Challenge said 2148 days ago (November 3rd, 2013)
Sounds like nasty business afoot
Your patient sonic evolution and simple yet so effective evolving sound combinations make this a restful listen but also intriguing. Even without the thorough back story, there is an undercurrent of something a little amiss that crops up from time to time. It's easy to get lost in this one. Nice touch at the end…. now on to part 2.
Ex_Silentio said 2142 days ago (November 8th, 2013)
Hello, Mr. Challenge
Nasty business, indeed. I guess I put as much time into the little story teaser as I did into the music. I guess it came out OK. Not my finest work, but I will keep slogging away. Thanks for coming by.
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Narad said 2148 days ago (November 3rd, 2013)
The Mountain of Eternal Light
Beautiful work and listen !
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Ex_Silentio said 2142 days ago (November 8th, 2013)
Hi, Harald
Your interest in my humble efforts is greatly appreciated. Thank you, sir.
Check out my latest song called Submerged
Henke said 2147 days ago (November 3rd, 2013)
Beautiful stuff
With a touch of spacey eeriness. Very cool entry. Enjoyed the whole story with the two contrasting pieces. Great work my friend.

Thanks and take care,
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Ex_Silentio said 2142 days ago (November 8th, 2013)
Mr. Henke
Thanks very much. I was going for something that had seamless transitions, where one chord changes into another almost imperceptibly. Ah, but there's only so much time in a day. Thanks, my friend.
Check out my latest song called Submerged
richard13 said 2147 days ago (November 3rd, 2013)
What an amazing talent you are
and the amount of effort you have put into creating this stunning soundscape, along with the detailed backstory, is truly impressive. The contrasts between the two halves work beautifully together. Exceptional work, dude.
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Ex_Silentio said 2142 days ago (November 8th, 2013)
Too kind
Thanks, Richard. Yes, a lot of work, but all good fun in a cathartic kind of way.
Check out my latest song called Submerged
SmokeyVW said 2147 days ago (November 3rd, 2013)
wow. nice soundscape. the ending certainly leads to part two!

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Ex_Silentio said 2142 days ago (November 8th, 2013)
Hi, Smokey
Well, yeah. Static to static is a fairly obvious transition hahaha. Thanks very much for stopping by.
Check out my latest song called Submerged
sschedra said 2147 days ago (November 3rd, 2013)
Wonderful, wonderful!!
I read the entries transfixed and as I got to the last entry there were voice communications and then . . . static?!!!??? If you planned it that way it was masterful indeed. The music providing the perfect backdrop to the (well grounded) entries and the timing (to my reading at least) was really on the mark. Just a great idea, well executed! Must go on to part 2 to see what happens.
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Ex_Silentio said 2142 days ago (November 8th, 2013)
Hi Stephen
Hahaha. No, I couldn't possibly have planned it out. It would take me 15 minutes to read the lunapedia article and the music would be long gone by then (I can listen much faster than I can read). That's great. I never thought about actually coordinating the two. I appreciate your comments.
Check out my latest song called Submerged
Corporal Beef said 2146 days ago (November 4th, 2013)
Part 1
Thank you for providing a premiss/story for your piece. I think you did a fantastic job combining warmth with a sense of loneliness. Listening to part two next. Thanks for posting.
Check out my latest song called (SRC 2013) SECCHI A CME0054
Ex_Silentio said 2142 days ago (November 8th, 2013)
Cpl. Beef
One of the best user names on the site. About once a year I get the urge to write something, and this is the only place where I can get people to read my writing, such as it is. The Moon theme came pretty naturally after I read a couple of articles in the scientific literature. As I learn about the problems that such an undertaking would pose, the date when it might actually happen gets pushed further into the future. Anyway, thanks for your kind comments.
Check out my latest song called Submerged
Doug Somers said 2145 days ago (November 5th, 2013)
Maybe the better term is fully immersive. You are the paragon of the patient development where minute changes in tone and texture all get enhanced meaning because they can be heard. Given your driving and varied ride in part 2 this shoes your skill as a composer in being able to create in such diverse styles. I still find in my work that I start with periods of less activity but then I creep other sounds into them. My touchstone to come back to patiently letting the piece evolve on its own terms is your work. Less can be more and in your hands can be a ton (tonne for the metric folk).

Your stories are also very cool - not just in concept but in how you bring realism to the piece by giving it the trappings of the terms and consistency of a future history. I recall that Michael Crichton's earlier work was like this.

Tres cool and thanks for the download!


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Ex_Silentio said 2142 days ago (November 8th, 2013)
Hi, Doug
You, also, are too kind. Very nice assessment. I have been working on being a little simpler on the ambient side. In fact, this isn't real ambient --- too many chords, too much stuff, as stripped down as it is. You may be one of the few people that read through the story. The first part was as realistic as I could make it in the time I had. I think it is an OK projection into the next 100 years, unless civilization slips into anew Dark Age. The real problem is motive, I think, something that rarely gets discussed. Why should we have a Moon base? There needs to be a solid justification for all the work and money. I have yet to hear it. Thanks for the favorable comparison to Crichton, I've read quite a few of his novels. But my favorite in a non sci-fi story called "Eaters of the Dead." A real page-turner, like most of his work.
Check out my latest song called Submerged
davajonah said 2142 days ago (November 8th, 2013)
stunning piece of work. Knocked out! I'd know it was you too, you do have a style all of your own, your own signature synth-voice combinations. Beautiful music sir.
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Ex_Silentio said 2142 days ago (November 8th, 2013)
Hi, Dave
I spend more and more time looking for the appropriate voices. I end up with many different versions, and I never feel like any one version is just right. Always compromising. My style is probably just my habit of finally settling on the same voice combinations that I always use --- I dunno. Anyway, that's nice of you to say. I will listen to your new post later today. Looking forward to it.
Check out my latest song called Submerged
Genre Info
Ambient music is a loosely defined musical genre that incorporates elements of a number of different styles - including jazz, electronic music, new age, rock and roll, modern classical music, reggae, traditional, world and even noise.

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