Ground control to Major Tom.
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
You can? Good. Or bad, I mean. Bad news, that is. We have a new president.
Yup. That's the one. She's cut the NASA budget to smithereens.
Smithereens? Sorry, vernacular. It means you can't come home.
That's right. Sorry, Major Tom.
Oh, yes. That's guaranteed. your wife will receive the full pension.
Uh...you're welcome. Goodbye, Major Tom.
The above conversation, or something similar, might well take place between Earth and Mars in a future installment of “Marshab”, scifi writer L. Probus's new series following teams of Earth scientists trying to develop a habitable human environment on our nearest planet neighbor. Their challenges include differences in gravity, atmosphere, soil and politics—the latter a perennial earthbound question mark for any program that depends for its success and, in some cases, its very survival on federal funding.