Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Of Moons and Hobbits


Still from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Image Source: Collider.

It may surprise some that space colonization is already in the planning stages. Earlier today, India launched its Mars orbiter, Mangalyaan ('Mars craft'), due to arrive at the Red Planet next year, as part of the new Asian space race. See coverage at Spaceports here.There is great interest in the vast resources of space (see my earlier posts here and here), especially Saturn's moon Titan (see bitcoin chatter here). Long before we possess the ability to reach and inhabit interplanetary destinations, the spacefaring countries of the world are mapping and naming them (the relevant UN document regarding space exploration and colonization, the Moon Treaty, is here). See comments on interplanetary territorial claims here and here.

Map of Titan (click to enlarge). Image Source: Europlanet.

According to Wiki, the "International Astronomical Union names all colles (small hills) on ... Titan after characters in J.R.R. Tolkien's work. In 2012, they named a hilly area 'Bilbo Colles' after Bilbo Baggins." You can see the Astronomical Union record for the hill here and current maps of the moon, here, here and here. Rarely have the frontiers of the old legends, modern imagination, and the future so clearly overlapped.
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