A Journey in Other Worlds HTML version

thereby easing the work of the batteries engaged in supporting the Callisto, they were
soon sweeping along at seventy-five to one hundred miles an hour. By keeping the
projectile just strongly enough charged to neutralize gravitation, they remained for the
most part within two hundred feet of the ground, seldom rising to an altitude of more than
a mile, and were therefore able to keep the windows at the sides open and so obtain an
unobstructed view. If, however, at any time they felt oppressed by Jupiter's high
barometric pressure, and preferred the terrestrial conditions, they had but to rise till the
barometer fell to thirty. Then, if an object of interest recalled them to sea-level, they
could keep the Callisto's inside pressure at what they found on the Jovian mountains, by
screwing up the windows. On account of the distance of sixty-four thousand miles from
Jupiter's equator to the pole, they calculated that going at the speed of a hundred miles an
hour, night and day, it would take them twenty-five terrestrial days to reach the pole even
from latitude two degrees at which they started. But they knew that, if pressed for time,
they could rise above the limits of the atmosphere, and move with planetary speed; while,
if they wished a still easier method of pursuing their observation, they had but to remain
poised between the sun and Jupiter, beyond the latter's upper air, and photograph or map
it as it revolved before them.
By sunset they had gone a hundred miles. Wishing to push along, they closed the
windows, rose higher to avoid any mountain-tops that might be invisible in the
moonlight, and increased their speed. The air made a gentle humming sound as they shot
through it, and towards morning they saw several bright points of light in which they
recognized, by the aid of their glasses, sheets of flame and torrents of molten glowing
lava, bursting at intervals or pouring steadily from several volcanoes. From this they
concluded they were again near an ocean, since volcanoes need the presence of a large
body of water to provide steam for their eruptions.
With the rising sun they found the scene of the day before entirely changed. They were
over the shore of a vast ocean that extended to the left as far as they could see, for the
range of vision often exceeded the power of sight. The coast-line ran almost due north
and south, while the volcanoes that dotted it, and that had been luminous during the night,
now revealed their nature only by lines of smoke and vapours. They were struck by the
boldness and abruptness of the scenery. The mountains and cliffs had been but little cut
down by water and frost action, and seemed in the full vigour of their youth, which was
what the travellers had a right to expect on a globe that was still cooling and shrinking,
and consequently throwing up ridges in the shape of mountains far more rapidly than a
planet as matured and quiescent as the earth. The absence of lakes also showed them that
there had been no Glacial period, in the latitudes they were crossing, for a very long time.
"We can account for the absence of ice-action and scratches," said Cortlandt, "in one of
two ways. Either the proximity of the internal heat to the surface prevents water from
freezing in all latitudes, or Jupiter's axis has always been very nearly perpendicular to its
orbit, and consequently the thermometer has never been much below thirty-two degrees
Fahrenheit; for, at the considerable distance we are now from the sun, it is easy to
conceive that, with the axis much inclined, there might be cold weather, during the
Northern hemisphere's winter, that would last for about six of our years, even as near the