Zhgaurpt Flimpflo, a graduate student in the astroarchaeology program at the University of Jjjjjj, was en route to the Alpha Centauri system last year to look for the site of the ancient Centaur High Temple when she noticed an unusual reading on one of their ship’s sensors.
The reading was just a blip coming from a minor yellow dwarf system they were passing on the way to Alpha Centauri.
“I was bored, so I just started staring idly at the long-range sensor data. I didn’t expect to find anything,” said Flimpflo about the initial sensor readings.
Her ship’s long-range sensors are capable of detecting all of the billions of objects orbiting nearby stars, down to the size of an Abrogziun jackaltermite. But one detail caught Flimpflo’s attention.
“I doubt I could have found it if I were looking for it. I just happened to notice that the spectral signal of one of the objects had a longer average wavelength than most of the other objects and its albedo was higher.”
In plain speak, she means that she saw something redder and shinier than usual. Though that does not indicate anything by itself, Flimpflo had a gut feeling that they should take a look.
She showed the readings to her mentor, Dr. W’Xofsd Kghyru, but he was skeptical. Luckily for Flimpflo, the engines needed some minor maintenance that could only be performed while the ship was stopped, so Kghyru agreed to stop near the yellow dwarf and let her do some more advanced scans.
No one could have guessed what Flimpflo was about to discover.
“I ran more advanced compositional scans on it, and my stomachs dropped,” she said. “I realized it was made largely of steel and plastic — primitive, to be sure, but certainly not naturally occurring.”
Further analysis determined that the object is irregularly shaped, probably about three feet by 10 feet, with a hollow opening on one side.
That’s where they found the mummy.
Flimpflo couldn’t restrain herself any longer when asked about the mummy. “A mummy! A space mummy! This is entirely unprecedented in the history of astroarchaeology.”
It would be nearly impossible to date the body without physically retrieving it, but theories already abound as to the mummy’s origins. Most believe Flimpflo has discovered some type of ancient burial ritual.
Dr. Qp Pq is a professor of astroarchaeology at S#wizc University and an expert on burial rituals.
“It’s fairly clear that the metal object is some type of primitive vehicle, perhaps a boat or a sledge,” said Dr. Pq, who was not involved in this project.
“It is likely that this species believed in a deity or deities that lived in a heaven above them,” Pq said. “After death, they would then launch their kings into space to live on among the gods.”
Some, such as G&}dq College’s Dr. Wägdja Thux, are more skeptical.
“Scans indicate that this being is only five feet tall and has four limbs,” Thux said. “Plus, there were no indications of any food or valuables sent with it to ‘the afterlife.’ Who’s to say this isn’t just some rich eccentric’s way of burying his pet? Like flushing a dead whalefalcon down a giant titanium toilet.”
But Flimpflo herself is convinced that the mummy was a king.
“Sure, we didn’t see any valuables, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a king,” she said. “It’s unlikely that we were the first ones to ever find this. The lack of valuables probably just means that space looters found it before we did.”
After Flimpflo realized that the object was artificially made, she began searching for the planet from which it originated. A planet-by-planet scan found that the third planet from the star was surrounded by metal debris, likely indicating the remains of the king’s domain.
While more research is scheduled to begin over the next four years, Dr. Pq does not think the civilization was very advanced.
“It doesn’t appear that these people had a very strong understanding of outer space,” he said. “Though they appear to have been able to launch metal into planetary orbit, so far we’ve seen no indication that they knew how to keep an organism alive in space.”
“No, unfortunately they probably never left the planet themselves,” Flimpflo said. “The king’s vehicle indicated a fundamental misunderstanding of the vacuum of space. It had no means of containing atmospheric gases for breathing, no means of recharging its primitive electron transfer–based power system, and the only system that seems to have been running in the vehicle was an electroacoustic transducer, which can only produce sound through a gaseous or liquid medium.”
But though the transducer was long inoperative, the team was able to extract a telecommunications that seems to be a transmission from the home planet to the vehicle. Though universal translation technology is still fairly unreliable, one line of the message seemed to indicate that there was a problem with the vehicle after launch.
“Ground control to Major Tom, your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong! Can you hear me, Major Tom?”