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Official Naming of Pluto's Moon, Mountains and Other Surface Features Underway

Feb 24, 2017 10:10 PM EST
IN SPACE - JULY 11: In this handout provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the dwarf planet Pluto (R) and Charon are shown July 11, 2015. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is nearing its July 14 flyby when it will close to a distance of about 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers). The 1,050-pound piano sized probe, which was launched January 19, 2006 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, is traveling 30,800 mph as it approaches.
(Photo : NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI via Getty Images)

Thanks to NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, scientists now have images and data about Pluto. New data revealed features and formations on the surface of the dwarf planet that are previously unknown to men, and naming these features is currently underway.

During the course of the data reading, scientists gave aliases to these formations, but official name are still needed. Reports say some of the names that were used during the course of the study were based on pioneers and other missions that have something to do with Earth and space. 

The naming of celestial bodies and formations in the universe is done by the International Astronomical Union. The New Horizons team submitted certain themes that are accepted by the organization that aims to give official names on Pluto's newly discovered features. 

One given theme is the underworld, which is patterned after Pluto's name. It is a common practice to follow ancient gods when naming planets and other celestial bodies. One example is Pluto's largest moon, Charon, which was named after the being who transports souls for Hades, according to a The Verge.

Therefore, it is safe to say that some working names of Pluto's features may become official titles. Charon has its own naming theme while the rest of Pluto's smaller moons will follow a different theme. Now that the themes were approved, the next step for the New Horizons team is to propose specific names for the specific features and moons of the dwarf planet Pluto.

"I'm very happy with both the process and partnership that New Horizons and the IAU undertook that led to wonderful, inspiring, and engaging naming themes for surface features on Pluto and its moons," Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado said in a statement via Phys Org. "We look forward to the next step-submitting actual feature names for approval."

The proposed themes were deemed inspirational and beautiful by the International Astronomical Union.

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