The Early Years of My Art Journey

THE ROOF ON MARS. 1988, 50×70. Oil.
I suppose folks on Mars would need a roof over their heads not only as a temporary shield against cosmic radiation and meteorites, the dust and Sun storms. Future travellers won’t head to Mars for 2-3 days like APOLLO astronauts to the Moon. Therefore, they’d deserve a more decent shelter than a capsule or a fast-built shed – as I imagined in this early painting of mine, meditating on an amusing thought if apple trees will ever bloom on Mars. If I painted it now, I’d picture a mobile observatory dome perched on the sand, which, when opened at night, would show a slightly different sky but remind home on Earth from the inside. Painted in blue and green, it would herald from afar the seeds of earthly life germinating on Mars. And over time, it would become a historical symbol of the beginning of the cosmic era of humankind. However, I’m still unsure about those apple trees. Are you?


WARMING ON EUROPA. 1990, 55×79. Oil.
It is guaranteed by the aging Sun. True, the process will take longer than has passed since the appearance of life on Earth (3.8 billion years). However, it will accelerate. In one billion years, the Sun’s luminosity will increase by around 10%, after 2 billion – 20%, and after 4 – 50%. The hydrogen (H) core will be replaced by helium (He). Light and heat-generating thermonuclear reactions will rise higher and higher. A yellow dwarf will grow into a red giant. Mercury will fall its first victim, turning into a cloud of dust. Then, it’ll be Venus. And next, it should be us.
However, estimates show that the red giant won’t reach this far. Instead, it’ll burn Earth’s and Mars’ atmospheres, oceans, and all ice – leaving them lifeless. At least part of the asteroids will evaporate, and so will the icy rings of the giant planets. The ice shell of Europa, Ganymede and Callista will melt. Would thaw unearth primitive life on Europa? Also, if humans had been able to settle there, would terrestrial (micro)organisms contaminate possible ecosystems? Regardless, the oceans eventually will turn into deserts – on Europa, smaller than our Moon, and Ganymede and Callista, larger than the Moon but smaller than Mars. And then, finally, in about 120 million years, the agony will befall the Sun itself: its fiery shell, swept away by pulsations, will separate and sweep through the entire Solar System, leaving in its center a super hot but shrivelled core of the Sun to the size of a planet – a white dwarf. From a distance of several or dozens of light years, someone will spot a planetary nebula slowly growing. And they won’t know who we were, what we did, or were we ever here. Isn’t it a pity?

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Zina Sviderskiene

ZINA GENOVAITE SVIDERSKIENE, Ph. D. in Astrophysics (1972). Senior Researcher at Vilnius University Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astronomy (1968-1992; 1997-2004). Director of Vilnius Planetarium (1992-1997). Science popularization included nine astronomy books (author, editor, illustrator), 1000+ articles in print and online media, 500+ media appearances/ interviews, public lectures, and exhibitions of astronomical artwork (over 150 oil paintings since 1966).

This artwork is copyright © Zina Sviderskiene. All rights reserved.