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As we proceed further into the Halloween season, a long dormant specter has unexpectedly emerged from the past to claim another victim.  In the early era of space exploration a shockingly high number of Mars missions were complete failures.  This led space agencies to talk about the “Galactic Ghoul” a malevolent (and wholly imaginary!) entity which devours Mars probes.  Well, actually the phrase “Galactic Ghoul” was coined in the nineties…before that, this high failure rate was attributed to “the Curse of Mars” which isn’t quite as vivid a personification of failure but which still effectively evokes a malevolent supernatural thing out in the darkness between worlds. The ghoul (or curse) was particularly hard on Soviet craft and a shockingly large number of Soviet missions just vanished into the void for no reason as detailed in this dramatic chart (which is worth looking at for all sorts of reasons).


The curse even manifested in the late nineties when NASA screwed up the distinction between matric and non-metric units of measurement and fired the Mars Climate Orbiter straight into the Martian atmosphere where it disintegrated (although that seems like it could be chalked up to a different old nemesis: being bad at math).  At any rate, the ghoul has been quiescent for a while as NASA learned to operate on the red planet (and triple check their numbers).


Today though brings more grim news from the Red Planet. The ESA and the Russian space agency collaborated on ExoMars a joint mission in which the two teams sent an orbiter and a lander to Mars together.  The Trace Gas Orbiter is the real scientific component of the mission.  It will assay Mars for methane sources (we would like to know where the atmospheric methane of Mars comes from since it should be scrubbed from the thin Martian atmosphere faster than it can build up).  The lander was named for Giovanni Schiaparelli, the 19th-century Italian astronomer who popularized the idea of Martian canals (a concept long since disproven but bearing elements of truth).


 Schiaparelli’s only scientific payload was a small weather station that would have run for a few days before running out of batteries.  It was really a lander designed to test out Martian landing capabilities, however, as of press time, the lander had proceeded into the Martian gravity well and then went ominously and completely silent.  Is the galactic ghoul now sated or will it need to feed on the next charismatic lander headed to the red planet?  Elon Musk may want to do some animal sacrifice and appeasement dances before he launches his colony ship!


Jelly Lagoon (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

Jelly Lagoon (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)\

I didn’t get home until late on Friday night–so I guess this week’s final post is once more going to be drawings from the little book I carry around.  The first is a surreal tropical underwater landscape.  I wish i had included more jellyfish–but I am happy about the jelly duck and the orange artichoke/balloon thing.  I am also fond of the underwater ghoul and the lurking crocodile monster.  For some reason, now that I work of Wall Street i have been drawing all sorts of predators and floating ghosts.  Speaking of which…

Monster Soirée (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

Monster Party (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

Here are some monsters at a convivial party of some sort.  It’s a bit unclear what is going on, but I feel like the hobgoblin in the purple and teal robes might well be the designated honoree. Look at how proud and happy he looks.  Another ghoul is there looking super excited too–although the green vegetable guy with gills looks as though he might have a bit of social anxiety.  I need to draw more furnaces and fireplaces.  They are really dramatic.

Prospect Park Sketch (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

Prospect Park Sketch (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

Finally here is a summer picture of Prospect Park.  All of the parkgoers were bland and ill-dressed so I just drew verdant trees and creamy clouds.  Just as I finished a teenager in a hijab walked by and a blackbird flew across the sky.  It was too late to put them in the picture, but they  are walking through the empty page towards it!

Have a lovely weekend! I am looking forward to next week’s posts.

Ye Olde Ferrebeekeeper Archives

June 2023