Friday, July 31, 2015

Place Names On Pluto's Moon Inspired By Star Wars & More

Pluto(left) and it's moon Charon(right).
By: Benjamin Hart

Earlier this month NASA captivated the World with photos that their New Horizons satellite took as it flew by Pluto. The images gave us our first ever clear look at the dwarf planet and it's moons. Pluto's largest moon, Charon, features numerous craters, mountains ranges, maculas(dark spots) and chasmas(canyons) on it's surface. Now, in true explorer fashion, the New Horizons team at NASA have taken on the task of naming the various areas on Charon, and they're doing it in a very geeky way. The team actually allowed the public to submit names, which led to a series of craters in "Vulcan Plane" being named after Star Trek characters, such as Kirk, Spock, Sulu and Uhura. The Tardis chasma and the Gallifrey macula are naturally named in honor of the Spaceship and home planet, respectively, of The Doctor in Doctor Who. Serenity Chasma gets it's name from Firefly, Nemo crater is a reference to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, Nostromo chasma and Ripley crater come from Alien, and the massive Mordor macula at Charon's north pole is a nod to Lord Of The Rings.

And as for Star Wars, the Skywalker, Leia Organa and Vader craters are named in honor of the Saga. You can check out a map of all the aforementioned formations on Charon below:

Unfortunately these names aren't official... yet. The New Horizons team have submitted the names to the International Astronomical Union, the government agency that is in charge of naming celestial objects. New Horizons' planetary scientist Mark Showalter seems confident the names will be made official, telling Mashable, "we have a decent chance of getting these names approved...The IAU tends to favor names that have been around for a while, but Star Trek is almost 50-years-old now and Star Wars is about 40-years-old."

Source: Mashable

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