Orbital variations of the LDOZ.That's all from The Interpreter for 2013 (except for our usual weekend wrap-up, which will be live on Saturday 8am AEST as always). We'll be back on 6 January for what we plan will be our biggest year ever. My thanks to everyone at the Lowy Institute (especially Marty and Alex) and the team at Twisted Pear who keep the site going, and to the incredible array of talented contributors who make The Interpreter such a pleasure to work on each day.

Until we see you again, this wry bit of commentary from Ministry of Harmony (thanks Michael) seems like an appropriate way to take us out for the year. Let's hope cooler heads prevail in the East China Sea in 2014:

Following the successful launch of its first lunar rover, the Chinese government has declared a defensive zone extending vertically from China into space and encompassing the moon. The Lunar Defense Obliteration Zone, according to newly appointed space minister Wu Houyi, “will protect China’s core interests and interplanetary sovereignty.” All foreign spacecraft, satellites, comets and space debris must notify China before passing through or into the zone.

Due to orbital complications, the boundaries of the LDOZ will shift daily in accordance with the position of the moon relative to its sovereign power. China’s Ministry of Space has issued diagrams of the shifting boundaries, dubbed “the lasso.”

Many countries have disputed China’s ability to establish such a zone, but Chinese officials are adamant about the country’s claim to Earth’s only natural satellite. “China’s historical ties to the moon date back at least five thousand years, perhaps more,” said Chen Guang, an official historian from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “We made a whole calendar based on it for Christ’s sake.”