Researchers working with the New Horizons mission have stunned the world with their breathtaking images and exciting names of the unique surface geology on Pluto and its five moons.
NASA’s New Horizons team, the group that oversaw the historic space mission to the distant planet Pluto, is having a ball naming the geologic features on Pluto. According to a report from Space.com, concerns over names are just one part of a greater effort to preserve the mission’s legacy in space exploration history.
New Horizons carried out the first flyby of the dwarf planet and its moons on July 14, and photos of the strange worlds have been pouring back to Earth ever since. The space probe’s photos are revolutionizing the way we understand Pluto, and the onslaught of new features and regions on the planet and its five moons are proving to be quite overwhelming for researchers looking to catalogue them.
New Horizons team principal investigator Alan Stern isn’t worried, however. He’s enthralled by the discoveries the New Horizons mission has made so far, illuminating the darkest corner of our solar system and revealing a vast collection of secrets that were waiting to be found. Given the mission’s small budget and team, it’s a wonder that the world has been this captivated with New Horizons so far.
The struggle to name newly discovered geologic features on Pluto and its moons may not even be over once everything has been given a name. Evidence suggests that Pluto is geologically active, which could cause major headaches when scientists return in the future to see that the “Darth Vader Crater” has taken on a completely different shape.