Contempt for the Flesh
Ashoka is located in a crater in the Ares Vallis region about 3,000 kilometers northeast of Valles-New Shanghai, not far from the landing sites of the early Viking and Pathfi nder probes. The town is a popular spa and spiritual retreat for Martians wanting to revisit their pioneer roots. It is also an active terraforming station and a major point of contact between the seminomadic Barsoomian culture of the high desert and the settled Martians of the equatorial canyonlands. 10,000 scientists, historians, terraforming workers, and spiritual gurus live in the town and surrounding area. A major attraction is a museum housing the Pathfinder lander and the Sojourner rover (which was still operational when humans landed and discovered it circling endlessly in a crater). The Viking lander is in another museum a short monorail ride from town. In a move that infuriated historical purists, all three machines were given modern hardware upgrades when discovered and now house AIs who act as historians of early Mars exploration. Sojourner is particularly friendly and sometimes leads lucky groups on walking tours of early landing sites.
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