Thursday, May 08, 2008

Slip Sliding Away

A few days ago, the Guardian published a big page 3 article about a proposed NASA mission to a tiny Earth-crossing asteroid (here’s the original proposal, which I think firms up an idea that has been floating about for a while). Obviously, NASA needs new, eye-catching missions for its so-new-it-isn’t-yet-built next-generation spaceship, and this isn’t a bad one. Some useful science might even be involved, although a swarm of tiny robots might be much better at manoeuvring around a flying mountain than human beings. But I can’t help thinking that if astronauts are going to catch a ride on an asteroid, it shouldn’t be back to Earth, but up up and away....

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to work out if I can incorporate as a plot point in the next novel the mind-boggling notion that the entire surface of Titan might be slowly rotating on top of an ocean of ammonia/water, pushed by winds. Are there tectonic plates, as in Earth? Are there huge titanquakes? Do strings of volcanoes form as the surface migrates above hotspots, as in Hawaii? Will sat-nav work? Hmmm...


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