Artist's concept of the New Horizons spacecraft encountering Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, in July 2015. (Photo : Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute (JHUAPL/SwRI))
The team of NASA's New Horizons Pluto mission have officially submitted a long list of names that will be potentially named after Pluto's first ever map along with its five moons.
Crowdsourced names that were generated by the "Our Pluto" campaign were compiled by the New Horizons team members that will be submitted to the International Astronomical Union yesterday which is exactly one week before the probe's epic flyby of the last planet of the solar system.
The names also include a lot of various references from science fiction, greek mythology to high fantasy, from Kirk, who is the captain of the starship Enterprise from the sci-fi T.V. series, Star Trek to Tartarus, which is the abysmal depths of the underworld in Greek mythology to Balrog, which is a monster found in J.R.R. Tolkien's novels.
This July 14, New Horizons will zoom in within 7,800 miles of the dwarf planet which will provide unprecedented views of its complex surface including geological features like craters, mountains and its moon system of Nix, Charon, Hydra, Kerberos and Styx. Also, the latest series of images has already revealed mysterious dark patches along its equatorial region.
Thanks to the IAU and the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California, the NASA New Horizons team won't be racking their brains for names that will be required for these features. Between March and April, more than ten thousand names were suggested and voted by just about anyone, according to NASA officials.
According to New Horizons co-investigator Mark Showalter who is also from the SETI Institute, the whole world provided a very diverse list that just covers every aspect of every culture, from modern literature to ancient mythology and history as well. It's a very interesting list that many will find enjoyable and amusing.
This IAU submission is categorized its proposed Pluto feature names into six themes that include Space Missions and Spacecraft, Underworld Beings, Scientists and Engineers, Historic Explorers and Underworlds and Underworld Locales with Travelers to the Underworld.
The potential Pluto moon names also include themes such as Fictional Explorers and Travelers, Fictional Origins and Destinations, Fictional Vessels and Exploration Authors, Artists and Directors for Charon. The smaller moons also have similar themes.
Check out all the suggestion lists for Pluto from the IAU submission here.