Features on Pluto’s moon Charon are about to be named after popular science fiction heroes, signaling the end of a long era of geeks and nerds being ridiculed and marginalized by society.
Geeks Going Mainstream
With science fiction television shows and movies like Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, and X-Men rising in popularity and becoming more and more accepted and loved by society at large over the past few years, it’s no wonder that the names that have been submitted for consideration in the naming of the features on Pluto’s moon, Charon, come from a handful of popular sci-fi universes.
If the names are approved, this would be a huge step forward, and truly a momentous occasion, for all geeks and nerds. Where once they were ridiculed by others for their love of Spock or of The Doctor, the fact that names from the fictional universes of the sci-fi heroes they love are being seriously considered for features of Pluto’s moon Charon is an indication that they might soon no longer have to worry about being marginalized.
Because such names are going to be entering into the mainstream, it means that they will be taught in the future to those who study the celestial bodies within our solar system. This should then instill a natural curiosity as to where those names came from, leading right back to the science fiction universes and the devoted fans who have lived in those universes for such a long time!
The Naming Process
As a result of NASA’s New Horizons space probe making it all the way to Pluto and sending back detailed photographs of Pluto’s moon Charon, a natural excitement built up over the most distant member of our solar system and the many new features discovered on the satellite’s surface. With the discovery of anything, of course, comes the issue of naming things. Because there weren’t any names to choose from, NASA decided to open up the naming process to the public.
The International Astronomical Union, which is in charge of approving the names of celestial bodies, said that the features on Pluto’s moon Charon should have names of fictional destinations, travelers, vessels, explorers, and milestones. In keeping with this theme, long-standing fans of certain science fiction universes were quick to submit names from their favorite sci-fi universes, and the fate of these names are now in the hands of the International Astronomical Union.
The Convergence of Universes on a Single Alien World
If approved by the International Astronomical Union, Pluto’s moon Charon would be home to a convergence of several science fiction universes. For instance, from the Doctor Who universe, one dark region on Charon has been named Gallifrey Macula, after The Doctor’s home world, and a long rift that intersects it has been named Tardis Chasma, after The Doctor’s spaceship and time machine.
In another nearby area, names have been taken from the Star Wars universe, with craters being named (Leia) Organa Crater, Skywalker Crater, and Vader Crater, with Vader Crater being noticeably darker than the other “Star Wars craters” (and rightfully so). On the other side of the Doctor Who universe portion of Pluto’s moon Charon lies the Star Trek universe portion, with a vast plain being named Vulcan Planum, and the craters contained within it being named Spock Crater, Sulu Crater, and Kirk Crater.
If these names for the features of Pluto’s moon Charon are approved by the IAU, it would herald a new age of mainstream acceptance of things that were once marginalized and ridiculed by society and heretofore considered to be solely the domain of geeks and nerds.