“Remember the last time we went to outer space?”
I asked the question as we were reminiscing about our first time in space. Panda was silent for a moment. “Yeah,” he replied at length. “That was a wild trip!” I looked at him, raising my eyebrows. “Only because you got lost in space,” I pointed out. Panda chose not to reply to my comment. “So how are we going to get there this time?” he asked. I shrugged and replied, “I guess it’s not likely that we’ll be abducted by another UFO any time soon.”
“I wish we could take our travel tunnel again,” Panda continued with a sigh. “Spiraling through outer space was always fun on our way to different places.”
I agreed. “That was a good vehicle. I guess we put too much wear and tear on it going on so many adventures. Remember the first time we used it was when we went on our cruise?” Panda laughed heartily. “How could I forget?” he asked. “And it made it all the way to Egypt and back, too!”
“Well, I suppose we could just spiral there ourselves,” I suggested. “We did spiral through Mom’s arpillera that one time, and ended up in Peru!” Panda shuddered. “I’m steering clear of that thing from now on!”
We decided to sleep on it. Sleeping is generally a cat’s answer to everything, and Panda usually follows my lead.
Several minutes later…
“Whoa!” we exclaimed in unison when we woke up. It seemed as if we had spiraled all the way to the moon! “That was fast!” Panda said, shaking his head to make sure he was really awake. For a few minutes we sat, mesmerized by the beauty and the quiet of our view. Then we decided to go exploring.
It wasn’t long before we met up with an astronaut. He was in the process of planting the US flag on the moon’s surface, but he was having a bit of trouble. Before I knew it, Panda ran over to help. “Here, let me try,” he said. “I’m shorter than you so I can probably see where we can push it down further.” The astronaut was grateful. “Thanks, guys,” he said with relief. “It’s hard to do anything with this space suit and heavy gloves on. Hey, would you like a ride on the moon rover?” We agreed with gusto.
“Hold on, guys!” the astronaut instructed us as we jumped up onto the moon rover. “Here we go!” To be honest, neither Panda nor I had expected the rover to go as fast as it did. The ride was exhilarating. “So what brings you fellas to outer space?” our astronaut friend asked as we slowed to a stop.
“Well,” I began, “it’s a long story. We’ve actually been here before. We saw Saturn and we really liked its rings. But we came to find out if Jupiter has rings, too.”
Our new friend looked surprised, and a bit thoughtful. “Hmmm,” he mused. “You’re not the cat and panda that got lost in space a couple of years ago, are you?” Panda and I exchanged glances. “Well,” Panda began, “I was the one who got lost, but fortunately NASA found me with their surveillance equipment.” The astronaut gazed at us steadily. “I thought you looked familiar,” he said. “So you want to learn about Jupiter’s rings, eh?” We nodded vigorously. “Can you tell us about them?” Panda inquired.
“I can do better than that,” he said, picking both of us up in his strong arms. “I’ll take you over there and you can see for yourselves. Everybody hold on!”
Before we knew it we had arrived at what we could only assume was the space shuttle. “Just a second, guys,” the astronaut said. “I need to unlock this so we can get to Jupiter faster.” For a minute we thought we were both going to get lost in space, because we suddenly found ourselves floating around with no gravity to stop us. I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t look.
I guess I didn’t have to worry, because soon we were safely inside the space shuttle. We were fascinated by the control panel. This was nothing like the plane we flew home from Area 51. “Panda!” I warned as he jumped up to check the buttons and levers up close. “I don’t think you should be up there!” “It’s okay,” our astronaut friend assured me. “I don’t think he can do much harm. I’ve got the main controls.” I shook my head doubtfully, but I didn’t want to be disrespectful, so I didn’t mention our experience with Amazon Prime.
It wasn’t long before we found ourselves gazing out the window at a huge, beautiful planet. “Wow!” exclaimed Panda. “Is that Jupiter?” Our guide answered in the affirmative. “I don’t see any rings,” I ventured. “I guess it doesn’t have any after all.”
“Actually,” the astronaut replied, “it does. Jupiter’s rings are made primarily of dust, so they don’t show up as well as Saturn’s do. They were first observed in 1979, and studied further in the 1990s.” Panda and I looked at each other. “I think I’ve seen something similar under Mom’s bed,” I commented, and Panda stifled a laugh.
After looking at Jupiter and asking more questions, we decided that we should probably start heading home soon. “I would take you back to Earth,” our friend said after we landed back on the moon, “but I haven’t finished everything I’m supposed to do here.” We shook our heads. “No worries,” I said. “We can always spiral back the way we came.” The astronaut looked puzzled, but he shrugged and said, “Okay, I guess you fellas know what you’re doing.” We thanked him for letting us ride on the moon rover and for taking us to see Jupiter.
After promising to keep in touch, we headed home to Fresno.
When we landed in the front living room, we noticed Mom was busy working on her blog. She said something about taking her laptop off of Windows “S-Mode” and getting to use her old photo editing program again. We looked at each other knowingly. We were glad she was happy, because we know that as long as she is happily working on her blog, we can go on adventures without her noticing.
Note: The background photos are from Pixabay.com, a royalty-free photo site. Any resemblance between this adventure and how it really is in outer space is most likely accidental. Except the rings. Jupiter really does have rings.