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What Are The Undying Lands & How Did They Get To Mars?

Now comes the weirdest connection of all. While the Undying Lands may be hidden in J. R. R. Tolkien’s texts, they’re a very real place in reality — at least, they are ever since January 18, 2024. On that day, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, part of its Perseverance Mars rover, crash-landed and came to its final resting place on its 72nd flight on the Red Planet. It turns out that at least some members of the space chopper’s remote flight team are Tolkien fans, as the agency announced on February 6, 2024 that the group nicknamed its final location Valinor Hills.

It’s not a coincidence. The report specifically reads, “The Ingenuity team has nicknamed the spot where the helicopter completed its final flight ‘Valinor Hills’ after the fictional location in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels, which include ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy.”

If we’re being nitpicky, Valinor is an entire region of Aman, not just hills. The continent’s massive Pelóri mountain range might have been a better title fit. Still, just knowing that the NASA team is up to date on their Tolkien lore enough to name the area after such an obscure corner of Middle-earth is enough to make any Tolkienite proud.

Besides, it’s fun to know that now, a very real part of our universe is named after the Blessed Realm. There may not be immortal beings around to populate it, but there is a very real version of the Undying Lands in our plane of existence now, and the fact that it’s on Mars gives it a mythic — dare we say immortal — quality all its own.

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