Overheard in Newer York: Petrichor

Rain on a space station? Really?

Newer York, Magenta A-23, 2 Av 305 AS

"Petrichor?!" I looked over to see that the incredulous comment was coming from someone who was obviously an Earther, freshly arrived.

"What?" This was a local, probably his orientation buddy. We were still figuring out how to integrate would-be immigrants into our Community. For the moment, we'd settled on a buddy system, which was fine because we rarely got more than ten new people at a time, yet.

"How does it smell like it just rained?!"

"Because it did!"

"How the hell does it rain inside a space station?!"

His orientation buddy just smiled back at him. "See the big tube down the center of the Cylinder?"

"Sure. I mean, it's a little hard to look at--that's the solar-simulator, right?"

"Right, but it's more than that. It actually provides a full range of weather by controlling the level of water vapor in here. Every now and then, it propels water out far enough that Coriolis and centripetal forces can get a hold of it. Eventually, that water drifts down onto the park and onto all these fields and stuff. For some crops, there's other forms of irrigation as well, but it's the main way we keep things growing!"

The Earther thought about that, and then smiled. "You know...I'd kinda worried about that. I wondered if I'd ever feel rain again. I mean, it's not like I was outside the Cleveland Dome to feel it very often, anyway, but still..."

"I should warn you, it's really more of a mist, or drizzle, than a real rain, at least, from what I've read about it. No storms, no hard rains. Even if we felt we needed it, it would be much harder to engineer given the 0.3G we have in here."

That seemed to make sense to the Earther, but he asked, "What about out on the ring?" Manhattan Ring was almost finished, which was one reason we were starting to accept immigrants at all.

"Ah, now, that's a different story. They're having to do a whole different kind of engineering there, since they won't have the central spindle to work with. But I think I did hear they were going for the same kind of system to simulate weather on the habitat levels. If that's the case, there might be some actual rain more like you're used to. I think gravity out there is supposed to get to 0.8G."

The Earther smiled wide. "That'll be something to see...," he inhaled deep, "and smell. There's just something about the smell after a good soaking rain. I still remember I was, like, 12 the first time I went outside the Dome, and it had just rained. We were all scared because we'd grown up hearing how awful the outside was, but we got lucky that day. There had just been a storm, but the weather that day was calm, and everything smelled...fresh. Like, I'd never smelled it before, and it still associated that way to me, y'know?"

The Newer Yorker was not sure they entirely understood, and it showed, but they were trying. "I'm not really certain that I do, except I do know that I agree with you that I like how the park smells after it's rained. That's why I took you here, honestly. I thought the green would do you good!"

The Earther smiled broadly. "Thank you, George. I appreciate that a lot." Then he got a curious look again. "Say...does it ever snow?!"

Credit for the prompt goes to my friend Stephanie Ryan!