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Humanity discovered the relics of alien civilisations long before it encountered other life-forms themselves. When deep-space survey ships like the LL919 left their local sector they found strange ruins and abandoned artefacts on distant worlds like Mara. The next time they launched, the survey ships carried teams of civilian xenoarchaeologists. It would be decades before they even began to understand the objects they had found; over a century before their researches pointed the way to true contact. The Monolith couldn't be scratched, even with tempered diamond-tipped tools. Although initial survey missions were usually carried out by a solo pilot, the LL919 could carry science teams or civilian researchers. It was pretty cramped in there for long flights. Flickr album