Mount Spock and Vader Valley - Name List for Pluto's Map is Nerd Dream Team

Mount Spock and Vader Valley - Name List for Pluto's Map is Nerd Dream Team

The SETI Institute has revealed its list of proposed names for the features of Pluto and its moons, and it is a spectacular document. The announcement comes just as NASA's New Horizons mission begins its first fly-by of the dwarf planet, which we will provide us with high-resolution maps of the planetary system.

Some say humanity's greatest drive is the desire to discover, to explore new places, "to boldly go." Perhaps its second-greatest drive, then, is to name everything we can see once we get there. Take the SETI Institute's recently unveiled list, for example.

As NASA's New Horizons spacecraft prepares to enter the flyby portion of its mission to Pluto, team member and SETI associate Mark Showalter has publicly released the final contenders of names to be associated with the mountains, valleys and craters we expect to find. Though he and his team originally seeded the list with ideas taken from both science and fiction, write-in nominations were encouraged. In the end, the document is spectacular reading material that demonstrates the breadth of human imagination and achievement while tapping into nostalgia, mythology, tragedy and triumph.

Showalter's list is divided into six main categories - one each for Pluto and its moons, Charon, Styx, Nyx, Kerberos, and Hydra - and from there into sub-categories of themes, such as fictional space ships, scientists, famous dogs, etc.

Topping the list of popular names were the crew of the original star ship Enterprise - mountains and gorges of Charon may bear the names of Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock, and maybe even Uhura or Sulu. Star Wars characters had quite a few votes, as well. Also in the theme of "Fictional Explorers and Adventurers" is Dorothy, who travelled to Oz and back.

Dorothy's little dog, Toto, is a contender in the category of "Famous Dogs," which may populate the map of Kerberos. Also on that list was Laika, canine cosmonaut and first animal to orbit the Earth.

It is hardly a secret that nomenclature is the great bridge between laymen and scientists - everyone can appreciate a good name. Adorabilis was a popular story several weeks back; more recently there was the "Hoff" crab. In fact, several years ago a similar but smaller poll was put together to find names for Pluto's moons. Hopefully this list contributes to a greater interest in astronomy among the general public.

Douglas Adams topped the list of "Authors, Artists, and Directors." Adams, whose Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one of the most beloved science fiction novels of all time, passed away in 2001. Also in that category are director Stanley Kubrick, of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Hieronymus Bosch, a Dutch painter who specialized in exquisitely detailed depictions of the underworld.

Firefly's Serenity and Doctor Who's Tardis were tops in the "Fictional Vessels" category - followed closely by Alien's Nostromo, which is hardly the only horror reference on the list.

Notable absences include the heroes of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasies. Surely Frodo and Sam count among travellers to the underworld? Other creatures and locales from his books make the list - the Desolation of Smaug could be a pretty epic name for a volcanic plateau.

I'll open this up to our readers. Read this list - what is your favorite entry? Who is missing?

Source: OurPluto.org

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You have to put the dog references on Pluto! It's the only right decision!

The Rogue Wolf:
You have to put the dog references on Pluto! It's the only right decision!

Too true! Missed opportunity for some meta-humor

PatrickJS:

The Rogue Wolf:
You have to put the dog references on Pluto! It's the only right decision!

Too true! Missed opportunity for some meta-humor

Nah I wouldn't go for some mickey mouse joke

Well, I see Clarke in there, but what about Asimov and Bradbury? Learn your science fictional ABCs, people!

FalloutJack:
Well, I see Clarke in there, but what about Asimov and Bradbury? Learn your science fictional ABCs, people!

I think, if any planet is going to get a Bradbury Valley, it'd be Mars! As for why Clarke is there but Asimov, I am not sure. Possibly we've already named something after Asimov at this point?

PatrickJS:

FalloutJack:
Well, I see Clarke in there, but what about Asimov and Bradbury? Learn your science fictional ABCs, people!

I think, if any planet is going to get a Bradbury Valley, it'd be Mars! As for why Clarke is there but Asimov, I am not sure. Possibly we've already named something after Asimov at this point?

You make a valid point on the Bradbury matter. Personally, I'm all for Yuggoth. Give old HP some credit!

PatrickJS:

FalloutJack:
Well, I see Clarke in there, but what about Asimov and Bradbury? Learn your science fictional ABCs, people!

I think, if any planet is going to get a Bradbury Valley, it'd be Mars! As for why Clarke is there but Asimov, I am not sure. Possibly we've already named something after Asimov at this point?

He has an asteroid
but just about everyone has an asteroid.

Why are we wasting some many good sci-fi names on a de-planeted piece of frozen ice? Save that shit for stuff in other solar systems dammit! If we blow our naming load too early we will end up having to name planets stuff like x-123 or planet Oprah.

Pluto should be exclusively reserved for H. P. Lovecraft references. Why is "Yuggoth" quarantined to the underworld section? Why is "Cthulhu" listed as a suggestion for the underworld beings? He's here. The Mi-go were from Yuggoth.

Darks63:
Why are we wasting some many good sci-fi names on a de-planeted piece of frozen ice? Save that shit for stuff in other solar systems dammit! If we blow our naming load too early we will end up having to name planets stuff like x-123 or planet Oprah.

Also this. I'm sure there'll be much cooler stuff around the corner we can use these names for. Wasting all this good material on this rubbish is probably why the name generator in Elite: Dangerous is so god-awful.

Darks63:
Why are we wasting some many good sci-fi names on a de-planeted piece of frozen ice? Save that shit for stuff in other solar systems dammit! If we blow our naming load too early we will end up having to name planets stuff like x-123 or planet Oprah.

Funny enough that is how most Planets are named. (there are just too many giant chunks of hydrogen)
And Oprah has 2 stars named after her.

FalloutJack:
Personally, I'm all for Yuggoth. Give old HP some credit!

Absolutely. It's kind of eerie that Pluto was discovered during the very same time Lovecraft was writing a story about a small, dark planet beyond the orbit of Neptune. The largest and/or most bizarre feature we find on Pluto needs to be named Yuggoth. We should also use others like Dagon, Shoggoth, Azathoth, or Shub-Niggurath. So much creepy stuff to use for that frozen planet of night.

 

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