It was suggested the other day that I do a FOTD about Pluto. I thought about it but the reason I didn’t want because there really isn’t a lot of Pluto in sci-fi/fantasy pop culture.
Sure I could have written something about that god awful Eddie Murphy movie.
I could have written about the Plutonians from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
However neither of these seemed like fun prospects and in any case, research yielded no fruit of anything worth my time. However, I did want to commemorate the occasion with an article. So upon searching a Wikipedia list on Pluto in fiction, I found what I picked for today’s topic.
Did you know that Charon, Pluto’s moon, is a mass relay in the Mass Effect series?
First off, let it be known that I have never played Mass Effect. Ok, not quite true. I dabbled in the first game a bit. I farmed a few planets and spent almost an hour trying to complete a mission with a vehicle. I got frustrated and when I couldn’t save or get back to the ship i rage quit and sold the game sometime later. So i won’t pretend to be an expect on the series. But I thought this was kind of cool anyway. First off for those who don’t know mass relays are how you get around the galaxy in the game. They’re like jump gates from Babylon 5. This is what the Mass Effect wikia says about mass relays.
Mass Relays are mass transit devices scattered throughout thegalaxy, usually located within star systems. They form an enormous network allowing interstellar travel. Hailed as one of the greatest achievements of the extinct Protheans, a mass relay can transport starships instantaneously to another relay within the network, allowing for journeys that would otherwise take years or even centuries with only FTL drives.
Here is what the wikia has on the Charon Relay.
The Charon Relay is a mass relay in the Sol system of the Local Cluster that orbits Pluto. Encased in a layer of ice hundreds of kilometers thick for thousands of years, the Charon Relay was originally believed to be nothing more than one of Pluto’s moons. Following its discovery and reactivation by humanity in 2149, the Charon Relay has served as the point of access between Earth, the cultural and economic heart of human civilization, and the rest of the galaxy.
In 2149, a human science team exploring the edge of the system near Pluto discovered that Charon was not a moon at all, but an enormous piece of ancient technology known as a mass relay that had been used by the Protheans. The discovery was not completely surprising, however, since the Prothean ruins found on Mars in 2148 had mentioned such a device. While the scientific theory behind the creation of mass relays was still beyond humanity’s reach at the time, scientists were able to reactivate the dormant relay.
Exploratory probes sent through the Charon Relay immediately dropped out of contact, and it was determined that the only way to learn what was on the relay’s other side was to send actual explorers through. Led by Jon Grissom, a team of brave men and women willing to risk their lives traveled through the relay, and discovered that it led to Arcturus. Their successful return made them heroes, and Jon Grissom became the face of the Systems Alliance as humanity entered a new age of unparalleled discovery and expansion.
The operation of the Charon Relay gradually had the side effect of circularising Pluto’s elliptical orbit.
So essentially what we thought was a rock of ice circling around another rock of ice was a gateway to the rest of the universe. I can only hope we eventually discover something as cool as that out there. I also hope the ending of the New Horizons mission is not as disappointing as the ending to Mass Effect was. Still, it’s not often you have a game where a moon turns into an intergalactic tollbooth and I thought that was pretty cool. So with that, I wish you all a good day, and I will see you again on the next Fact Of The Day.