In Space, Every Goodbye Could Be Our Last

Getting to know a new place in space is kind of like becoming familiar with a new city: It reveals itself slowly, a patch of terrain or a new neighborhood here, a curious landform or hidden garden there. Over time, all those pieces assemble themselves into an image of somewhere we think we know.

But it's necessarily superficial. For the most part, our glances are too fleeting to disentangle the threads of history, whether geologic or cultural, that really form the fibers of a place. And brief visits don't offer much of a chance to dig beneath a world's surface. Think about the richness of information that's buried beneath cities, in bootleggers' tunnels and abandoned train stations, in ...

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