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Astronomie - Pluto: Zwergplanets Oberflächenmerkmale bekommt erste offizielle Namen

8.09.2017

Pluto: dwarf planet's surface features given first official names

Mythological figures, astronomers, explorers and a British schoolgirl are among those immortalised as mountains, craters and regions on the distant world

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Pluto’s surface feature names are marked on this map, compiled from images and data gathered by the New Horizons spacecraft during its 2015 flight through the Pluto system. Photograph: Ross Beyer/SwRI/JHUAPL/Nasa

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A British schoolgirl who came up with the name “Pluto” for a newly-found planet in 1930 has been immortalised on the distant world by having a crater named after her.

On hearing of the planet’s discovery from press reports, 11-year-old Venetia Burney from Oxford proposed the name of the Roman god of the underworld to her grandfather, a librarian at the city’s Bodleian library. He dutifully passed it on to US astronomers where it was approved by Clyde Tombaugh, who had spotted the rocky body.

The Burney crater is one of 14 Plutonian features to receive an official name on Thursday from the International Astronomical Union, whose experts have worked for more than a year to approve titles put forward by scientists and members of the public.

A distinctive heart-shaped feature revealed in the breathtaking images captured by Nasa’s New Horizons mission in 2015 becomes Tombaugh Regio, while a large plain is named Sputnik Planitia in honour of the first space satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1957.

Other features on Pluto, which the IAU has demoted to “dwarf planet” status, pay homage to underworld mythology. Tartarus Dorsa is a ridge named after Tartarus, the deepest, darkest pit of the underworld in Greek mythology; Sleipnir Fossa nods to the powerful eight-legged horse of Norse mythology that carried the god Odin into the underworld; and Virgil Fossae honours the Roman poet who depicted the underworld in his Aeneid and was later represented as Dante’s guide through hell and purgatory in the Divine Comedy. A deep dent in the surface is named Adlivun Cavus after Adlivun, the underworld in Inuit mythology, and Djanggawul Fossae is a network of depressions named after a trio of divine siblings from indigenous Australian mythology.

The mountaineers Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay lend their names to the Tenzing Montes and Hillary Montes mountain ranges on Pluto, with another series of peaks, Al-Idrisi Montes, honouring Ash-Sharif al-Idrisi, an Arab mapmaker and geographer.

Two large regions on Pluto’s surface are named Hayabusa Terra and Voyager Terra after Japanese and US spacecraft, while a second crater is named after James Elliott, a researcher at MIT who pioneered methods that allowed astronomers to study Pluto’s thin atmosphere and the rings of Uranus.

Quelle: theguardian
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Names of surface features on Pluto
 

The Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has officially approved the naming of fourteen features on the surface of Pluto. These are the first geological features on the dwarf planet to be named following the close flyby by the New Horizons spacecraft in July 2015.

The IAU has assigned names to fourteen geological features on the surface of Pluto. The names pay homage to the underworld mythology, pioneering space missions, historic pioneers who crossed new horizons in exploration, and scientists and engineers associated with Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. This is the first set of official names of surface features on Pluto to be approved by the IAU, the internationally recognised authority for naming celestial bodies and their surface features.

NASA’s New Horizons team proposed the names to the IAU following the first reconnaissance of Pluto and its moons by the New Horizons spacecraft. Some of the names were suggested by members of the public during the Our Pluto campaign, which was launched as a partnership between the IAU, the New Horizons project and the SETI Institute. Other names had been used informally by the New Horizons science team to describe the many regions, mountain ranges, plains, valleys and craters discovered during the first close-up look at the surfaces of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon.

We’re very excited to approve names recognising people of significance to Pluto and the pursuit of exploration as well as the mythology of the underworld. These names highlight the importance of pushing to the frontiers of discovery,” said Rita Schulz, chair of the IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature. “We appreciate the contribution of the general public in the form of their naming suggestions and the New Horizons team for proposing these names to us.”

More names are expected to be proposed to the IAU, both for Pluto and for its moons. “The approved designations honour many people and space missions who paved the way for the historic exploration of Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, the most distant worlds ever explored,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons Principal Investigator from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado.

The approved Pluto surface feature names are listed below.

Tombaugh Regio honours Clyde Tombaugh (1906–1997), the U.S. astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930 from Lowell Observatory in Arizona.

Burney crater honors Venetia Burney (1918–2009), who as an 11-year-old schoolgirl suggested the name “Pluto” for Clyde Tombaugh’s newly discovered planet. Later in life she taught mathematics and economics.

Sputnik Planitia is a large plain named after Sputnik 1, the first space satellite, launched by the Soviet Union in 1957.

Tenzing Montes and Hillary Montes are mountain ranges honouring Tenzing Norgay (1914–1986) and Sir Edmund Hillary (1919–2008), the Indian/Nepali Sherpa and New Zealand mountaineer who were the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest and return safely.

Al-Idrisi Montes honours Ash-Sharif al-Idrisi (1100–1165/66), a noted Arab mapmaker and geographer whose landmark work of medieval geography is sometimes translated as “The Pleasure of Him Who Longs to Cross the Horizons.”

Djanggawul Fossae defines a network of long, narrow depressions named for the Djanggawuls, three ancestral beings in indigenous Australian mythology who travelled between the island of the dead and Australia, creating the landscape and filling it with vegetation.

Sleipnir Fossa is named for the powerful, eight-legged horse of Norse mythology that carried the god Odin into the underworld.

Virgil Fossae honors Virgil, one of the greatest Roman poets and Dante’s fictional guide through hell and purgatory in the Divine Comedy.

Adlivun Cavus is a deep depression named for Adlivun, the underworld in Inuit mythology.

Hayabusa Terra is a large land mass saluting the Japanese spacecraft and mission (2003–2010) that returned the first asteroid sample.

Voyager Terra honours the pair of NASA spacecraft, launched in 1977, that performed the first “grand tour” of all four giant planets. The Voyager spacecraft are now probing the boundary between the Sun and interstellar space.

Tartarus Dorsa is a ridge named for Tartarus, the deepest, darkest pit of the underworld in Greek mythology.

Elliot crater recognises James Elliot (1943–2011), an MIT researcher who pioneered the use of stellar occultations to study the Solar System — leading to discoveries such as the rings of Uranus and the first detection of Pluto's thin atmosphere.

Quelle: IAU

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