Werewolves will be out tonight for the largest moon in fifteen years. The elliptical orbit of Luna brings it as close as it gets to our Earth and sky-gazers in the northern hemisphere will find it high in the sky, cresting about our heads around midnight. Rain or shine you should check it out; it won’t appear to be this large for another eight years.
Perhaps this is why Romanian scientist Virgiliu Pop is pounding the pulpit insisting that the moon will best serve mankind by being parsed apart by space-faring superpowers instead of the free-love Common Heritage suggestion that has left us with Antarctica bereft of mines, immigrant staffed factories and armed squads of dogsled teams patrolling lines in the ice.
Pop sees a future where the surface of the moon will undergo a market-driven transition similar to that which transformed the United States into a sprawling mass of rustbelts, landfills and tract homes. The established pace programs have an advantage but Pop’s egalitarian idea suggests smaller nations band together and form regional space agencies to participate in this 21st century landgrab. In his recently published book, “Who Owns the Moon?– Extraterrestrial Aspects of Land and Mineral Resources Ownership” Pop explores pre-existing legal definitions of property ownership and uses what precedent he can find to encourage a system of ownership beyond escape velocity. His cunning eyes have also settled on less traditionally daydream inducing rock of ice floating through the solar system, namely asteroids and comets.
Looks like Gene Roddenberry’s concept of an egalitarian future will have to wait a couple more centuries. Scramble now to assemble your moon colonization team and be sure you’ve got a team of space lawyers back home to keep the courts locked up until you can ring your lunar lot with electrified wire and get the gun turrets up.
Thanks to New Scientist and Space Magazines for the stories, io9.com for bringing it to my attention.