BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Soon, Pluto will become the planet of the underworld. NASA has officially approved the names of Pluto’s moons and features and all of them are related to the Greek or Roman mythology of the Underworld.
The New Horizon spacecraft sent by NASA to explore Pluto’s surroundings has sent pictures of its amazing discoveries on the Pluto’s surface, such as mountains, cliffs, craters, rivers, and basins. After that, the International Astronomical Union (IAU), together with NASA, picked a few themes for the names of these formations and of the moons that surround Pluto.
All themes are somehow related to the Roman or Greek mythology of the Underworld, since even Pluto (or Hades, in the Greek mythology) is the name of the god of the Underworld. Pluto’s biggest moon is called Charon, the boatman that brought dead people in the Underworld. The features of Charon will bear names related to different destinations or places among the same theme from mythology or fiction.
Also, the features of the planet will receive names from folklore tales on the underworld from different cultures, not only the Greek and Roman ones. Those who were involved in the New Horizon project were also part of this naming process.
But Pluto has other smaller moons, too. One of them, Styx, was named after the river that marked the boundary between Earth and the Underworld and bears features named after river gods. Another moon, Nix, has features with the names of gods of the night.
Kerberos, named after the three-headed dog that guards the Underworld, will bear names of renowned dogs from tales and mythologies. In the end, Hydra’s features will be related to legendary dragons and serpents.
The scientists are happy that many of them could propose names and some of them will actually be accepted. Jim Green, the director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division in Washington, is excited by the prospect of seeing his suggestions of names on a future map of Pluto and its surroundings.
People are really happy about this engaging initiative to propose themes and names for Pluto’s moons and features. This process is a partnership between IAU and the New Horizon team. They cannot wait until they submit their chosen names for approval.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons