Yesterday the Cassini mission released this photograph of Saturn’s closest moon, Mimas – an image taken less than a month ago, on October 16th. It has a wonderfully spooky vibe. I can only guess that while flying past Mimas you would get the impression that its singular gaze is following you.
Just about every modern moviegoer who sees this crater-pocked sphere thinks it bears an uncanny resemblance to a famous fictitious space object.
This is apparently a coincidence. Mimas was merely a dot in space for a very long time after William Herschel first spotted it in 1789. The first close-up photos revealing its Cyclopean flair came from the Voyager missions in 1980. The first (fourth) Star Wars movie was already in (and out of) the theaters by then, debuting in 1977.
If travel to Saturn’s moons ever becomes a common thing, one wonders if humans will call this object “The Death Star”. I have to believe it’s possible for a cultural reference to last long after it fades from common knowledge. After all, we’re calling it Mimas right now, and how many people know who Mimas is? But the currents of memory are hard to predict. Future movie loving space travelers might also re-name this moon Wazowski.
Perhaps it will be left to the moon’s colonizers to determine if they want to be thought of as Mimanteans, Imperial Storm Troopers or Wazowskers. Of course, given the pockmarked terrain, you can tell they have a local weather problem with intermittent boulder rain. Anyone looking to live on Mimas might just as well be called a dang fool.
Place names are important, though. Bali Ha’i, Shangri-la and El Dorado all sound like very nice places to go, but would you really want to live there?
If you had to live in a fictional place, where would you settle?