I saw the sign off for the EROS data centre for the next turning up ahead, and even in the gloom I could tell I was in the right place. I could see the huge water tower of the complex that had the letters E.R.O.S written across it. I turned up this road for about a mile and then turned into the complex itself. Gray had warned me that I was going to get the third degree of security. I had my passport ready. I was asked to open the bonnet and trunk and step outside the vehicle, so I hurriedly put on my fleece and stood out in the biting wind. I tried to stand behind the booth out of this gale but it swirled round me nevertheless. I was handed a pass to get in the car park and kindly directed down to the reception. I parked up and hurried over to the entrance and found myself in a huge space that looked like an underused airport. I was given a pass and asked to wait for Gray to arrive. I was a bit surprised it was my other colleague Matt who came up the corridor to find me.
The building was huge and mainly on two levels above ground. The central corridor contained an amazing array of spacecraft, all shiny metal and foil just like in the movies, and the walls were adorned with the most colourful and patterned satellite imagery of every sort from around the world. We passed by the canteen at the far end of this gallery and Matt led me off to one side to his office. He did have his own office, it was not particularly open plan in this part, but it was in the central part of the building so he had no window. He just sat there with huge computer resources, a window on to the rest of the world, as it were. It was useful to start my work with him as he was running searches for all the imagery I might need for the job in Sierra Leone. Whereas I had some access to free imagery from outside, he could access the whole archive and because I was working for the US government, hand it over for free.
Gray walked in and we greeted each other like old friends. The previous times I had met the both of them had been out in Freetown, and it was so nice to find them in their own habitat. We chatted about the times we had had, started to work out my schedule for the week and what Gray had to show me to get me up to speed. Gray also said he didn’t want to tax me too much on my first day, especially with the jetlag, but was arranging a tour of the EROS centre.