Now that we finally know what Pluto and its moon Charon look like, the first thing we want to do is name the stuff we see there. And so we have maps with names. And what names! Pluto gets craters, plains, and other features named for historical figures like Hillary and Norgay, science names like Sputnik and Challenger, and even fictional names like Cthulhu and Balrog. As far as that goes, Charon is even more interesting. A portion of Charon’s map is shown above, with names from Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and other science fiction worlds.
“It shouldn’t be a big surprise to anybody that once we put [the fictional explorers and travelers theme] up for a vote that names like Kirk and Spock and Skywalker and Leia became popular names,” Showalter added. A quick glance at the map will show Lord of the Rings fans will not be disappointed, either.
Among many others, there are also references to Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Stanley Kubrick for his film 2001: A Space Odyssey, Douglas Adams for his book The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and Madeleine L’Engle, the author of A Wrinkle in Time.
The place names aren’t set in stone yet. They must first be approved by the International Astronomical Union. But these preliminary place names give scientists reference points to study and communicate to each other. Read about them and see more maps at Buzzfeed.