Wed 15 Jul, 2015 01:06 pm
Interesting articles on the proposed names of Pluto's features. Any of your favourites here?
The team behind the mission have a list of proposed names for the craters and mountains on the dwarf planet and its moons that is deeply satisfying.
Following a public vote, there’s a strong literary leaning to some options (the possibilities can be suggested by the New Horizons team, but need to be approved by the International Astronomical Union). So, as well as naming geographical features on Pluto after spacecraft (Sputnik or Challenger, for example), scientists (Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto) and explorers, there are some fantastic “underworld beings” being suggested, in honour of Pluto the classical god and ruler of the underworld.
Most popular amongst voters in this category is horror writer HP Lovecraft’s octopus-deity Cthulhu (“In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming …”), followed by JRR Tolkien’s Mines of Moria-haunting Balrog (“of all elf-banes the most deadly”), the Egyptian god Anubis, the abducted Proserpina from Roman mythology (Persephone for the Greeks), and The Silmarillion’s Morgoth.
But that is not all! “Charon is really where it’s at … with the wish list containing Kirk, Spock, Sulu, Uhura, Leia, Vader, Vulcan, Krypton, Gallifrey, Tattooine, and even (Ursula) LeGuin, (Arthur C) Clarke, and (Douglas) Adams from the real world,” writes Popular Mechanics of suggestions for one of Pluto’s moons. “There’s even a nod towards the writings of Stanislaw Lem with Pirx, which is what we in the business call ‘deep nerd’.”
My favourite suggestions, though, are for Pluto’s moon Hydra, where Smaug and the Jabberwock are up against Egyptian demon of chaos Apophis and Fijian snake-god Ndengi, as part of its “legendary serpents” theme.
I hope they get approved: there’s not much which would make me happier than a Mount Smaug, or a Vale of Cthulhu. Back to Baxter, while we wait for more news from New Horizons, and the IAU.