Two days remain to submit names for the geography of Pluto and Charon

The names will be considered by the NASA New Horizons Science Team and International Astronomical Union.
By Andrew McDonald | Apr 22, 2015
Members of the public have until April 24 to submit suggestions for names to be given to geographic features on the surfaces of Pluto and Charon. NASA's New Horizons probe will reach orbit of Pluto and Charon, the dwarf planet's largest moon, and map them for the first time.

Once these data start rolling in, names will be needed, and the New Horizons Science Team will collaborate with the International Astronomical Union, which governs the appellations given to astronomical objects. The team wants the public to nominate ideas and vote for their preferences here.

The nominated names fall into three categories: The History of Exploration, The Literature of Exploration, and the Mythology of the Underworld.

The History of Exploration theme is meant to commemorate historic explorers, scientists and engineers, and space vehicles. Pluto will be the last of the traditional nine planets to be imaged by an orbiting spacecraft. It is also a large and relatively nearby member of the Kuiper Belt, a region of dwarf planets beyond the orbit of Neptune.

The Literature of Exploration theme honors fictional explorers, fictional points of origin and destinations, fictional ships of exploration, and the authors and artists behind them.

The Mythology of the Underworld theme fits with Pluto's name, which comes from the Roman god of the Underworld. Pluto's name itself is the product of public suggestion; 11-year-old Venetia Burney suggested the name to discoverer Clyde Tombaugh. Tombaugh favored the name because its first two letters called to mind Percival Lowell, who had initiated the search for the so-called ninth planet. The Underworld theme encompasses beings from the Underworld, those who have traveled to the Underworld, and names for the Underworld and its locales throughout human cultures.


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