Pluto's largest moon, Charon, has received its first official names for its features. Despite being discovered in 1978, Charon wasn't clearly seen until the New Horizons spacecraft was able to reach it in 2015.
The New Horizons was able to suggest the names that were confirmed.
New Horizons reaching celestial bodies such as Pluto and Charon gave humanity a glimpse of objects that were once too far to see. Photographs by New Horizons showed every crater, mountain, and other features on Charon. Now, the International Astronomical Union has given Charon the first official names for its features.
Most of the ideas for the names of the features on Charon came from the Our Pluto online naming campaign from 2015. Names for the features came from all over the world, as well as members of the New Horizons team.
The IAU says that the names focus on the literature and mythology of exploration. Names for Charon's features honor human exploration, honoring travelers, explorers, scientists, pioneering journeys, and mysterious destinations.
Some of the more interesting names on the list of 12 features include Kubrick Mons, Dorothy Crater, Nasreddin Crater, and Caleuche Chasma. Kubrick Mons is named after film director Stanley Kubrick, the IAU cites his seminal film 2001: A Space Odyssey in its description. Dorothy Crater is named after the protagonist from L. Frank Baum's book The Magical World of Oz.
There's Something About Charon
Charon is one of the most distant objects that has been encountered by the space probe. It is also one of the largest satellites relative to the size of the planet it is orbiting. Charon is almost half the size of Pluto, it's about 754 miles or 1,213 kilometers.
When scientists discovered Charon they expected to see a world completely covered in craters, instead, they found different features including mountains, canyons, and a multi-colored surface. Images of Charon were first taken on July 14 and made their way to Earth on Sept. 21.
Scientists noted that the plains on the southern portion of a canyon found on Charon have fewer large craters than the northern regions, which means they are much younger. The theory for the wide-scale resurfacing includes cryovolcanism. Cryovolcanoes are a type of volcano that erupts with substances besides lava such as water, ammonia or methane.
Paul Schenk from the New Horizons team says that they believe that Charon may have had an internal water ocean frozen long ago that led to water-based lavas erupting and changing the landscape.
Charon is one of the largest bodies in the Kuiper Belt.