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Tolkien and... Rosetta and Philae

A student inquired: "I heard there is supposedly a link between Tolkien and the Rosetta / Philae mission. Is this true?"

 

You heard correctly. The truth is, J.R.R. Tolkien created the comet which this spacecraft visited.

In 1971, David Eddings made a pilgrimage to J.R.R. Tolkien's home. "Please review my new fantasy bestseller!" he begged. "I have printed a trillion copies, and only your holy words will help me to sell all of them!"

Tolkien had a very kind heart, so he read Eddings' novel. But it was horrible! Tolkien was appalled! "I cannot allow this smut to be spread throughout the world", he decided. As Tolkien was, by then, already the richest man in the world, he simply bought all the copies - every single one of the trillion. In a secret night mission, he shipped them to the English coast, soaked them in sea water, mashed them to papier-maché, formed them into one huge lump of irregular shape, stuck that lump on top of three taped-together Saturn V rockets, and shot it all into space! The world was saved from the horrible book!

The lump of papier-maché became the "comet" 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

The Rosetta mission was actually paid for by Eddings' heirs, to extract and scan a copy. Fortunately, the Tolkien Estate heard of this devilish plan. It was Christopher Tolkien himself who snuck into ESA's headquarters before launch and poured superglue over the harpoon thingies, so that they didn't fire on Philae's touchdown.

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