Pluto’s controversial status in our solar system is being somewhat redeemed after the historic flyby of New Horizons revealed a wealth of previously unknown features of both the dwarf planet and its moons.
The science of mapping Pluto and its moons may take a while more until a final results is shared with the public. Yet, the science of naming different regions on the planet and its four moons is already getting a boost.
NASA’s New Horizons team unloaded the burden of naming extraordinary geological features and is sharing it with enthusiasts around the world. The unofficial names that stemmed so far from the crowdsourcing effort will be submitted for approval with the International Astronomical Union, the body entitled to assign celestial bodies and features on these new, official names.
As such, a welcoming website, ourpluto.org invites everyone to submit their name ideas. Of course, there are some rules to be followed. Names assigned for Pluto’s features should stem from six areas: space missions and spacecrafts, historic explorers, scientists and engineers, underworld everything – from beings to locales to travelers in the depths of the underworld.
If you’re looking to bring your contribution to naming surface features on Charon, make sure the name meets the requirements for the following categories: fictional explorers as well as travelers, fictional vessels, fictional destinations, authors, directors and artists that sketched the theme of exploration.
Nix, Hydra, Kerberos and Styx also have one category assigned to them: deities of the night, serpents and dragons that make the object of legend, mythological, fictional or notable dogs and of course river gods.
The process of naming all the known features on the six celestial bodies is still ongoing. As New Horizons is still beaming the anxiously expected data to the team, the process is expected to linger for a while.
However, it is exciting to see how so many beloved characters of science fiction literature, art, movies, series and how many illustrious figures are expected to be forever marked on the maps of these celestial bodies.
Star Wars meets Star Trek, meets notable names in exploration and science and other areas that have done their best of their efforts to keep interest in space exploration alive.
On Pluto, the main plateau unraveled by New Horizons images, the famously heart-shaped region is now named the Tombaugh region. Clyde Tombaugh was the American astronomer who, in 1930 first observed the dwarf planet hiding behind Neptune. In the Sputnik Planum, the icy region named after the Soviet satellite the launch of which, in 1957 was hailed the dusk of space exploration.
The Norgay Montes bordering the Sputnik Planum takes its name after the first man to ever reach the top of Mount Everest. The other mountains range is named after Norgay’s fellow explorer, Edmund Hillary. The Cthulhu region, named after H.P. Lovecraft’s god character is as dark as the novel.
Charon’s craters are named after Kirk and Vader, Spock and Skywalker, while a darker spot on the surface holds the name Mordor. Sulu and Uhura, Star Trek shipmates, as well as Star Wars’ Princess Leia each get their own surface feature.
As there are plenty of features left to name the team from NASA, the SETI and IAU certainly need some more ideas.
Photo Credits: cbs.com