Mount Spock? Skywalker Valley? Tardis Ridge? These landmarks could be coming to Pluto and its satellites, thanks to NASA’s New Horizons mission. The NASA team has compiled a list of names that range from fictional characters from science fiction and fantasy, to their home planets and vehicles, from which to draw future names to newly discovered regions within the Pluto orbitary system. The list also includes noted authors, river gods, and even famous dogs.
The list, derived from an online survey at “OurPluto”, drew over 60,000 ballots and 15,000 candidates, according to Mark Showalter, planetary scientist at the SETI Institute, the body that organised the campaign. The New Horizons probe will be flying over Pluto this month, and Showalter expects the team to start naming the subsequent geographical discoveries as early as 14th July.
Though names must be approved by the International Astronomical Union, Showalter was keen to involve the public in the process. “It’s up to the IAU, but since the public was so invested in the process, we thought it was appropriate to let the public know what we’re proposing,” Showalter told NBC News.
NBC has compiled the highlights of the “OurPluto” list:
- Features on Pluto:The themes include space missions and spacecraft (Columbia and Challenger, Sputnik and Soyuz), scientists and engineers (Tombaugh, Lowell and Oort), historic explorers (Norgay, Hillary and Baré), underworld beings and locales (Cthulhu, Balrog and Pandemonium), and travelers to the underworld (Heracles, Virgil and Beatrice).
- Features on Charon, Pluto’s largest moon:Fictional explorers and travelers (Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Skywalker, Leia, Vader, Alice, Dorothy), fictional origins and destinations (Vulcan, Mordor, Tatooine), fictional vessels (Serenity, Tardis, Nostromo, Galactica), and authors, artists and directors who touched on exploration (Douglas Adams, Arthur C. Clarke, Madeleine L’Engle).
- Features on the moon Styx: River gods (Ethiopia’s Eqqo, Egypt’s Hapi, Zaire’s Mbongo).
- Features on the moon Nix:Deities of the night (Chandra, a Hindu moon god; Bodach, a Scottish goblin; Metsaka, a moon goddess of Mexico’s Huichol people).
- Features on the moon Kerberos:Dogs from literature, history and mythology (Laika and Toto).
- Features on the moon Hydra:Legendary serpents and dragons (Jabberwock, Smaug and Falkor).
By the end of the month, we could a real-life Serenity Valley. Browncoats beware.
Thank you NBC News for providing us with this information.
Image courtesy of International Astronomical Union.