Charon is the largest of Pluto’s five moons, and is also roughly half the size of Pluto. Image credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, has been designated with its first official surface feature names, thanks to the International Astronomy Union (IAU). Crevices, craters and valleys now honour legendary explorers and visionaries, whether they are real of fictitious. NASA’s New Horizons team, which handled the spacecraft’s flyby of Pluto and Charon in 2015, put forward a dozen names that were approved by the body’s Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature.
Charon is considered to be one of the larger bodies in the region beyond Neptune composed of primordial asteroids, more commonly known as the Kuiper Belt. Charon also has a wealth of geological features, including numerous amounts of craters, similar to what is seen on other moons in the Solar System. It was decided by IAU that it was time to assign some official names for such features.
The New Horizons team were the driving force behind the approval of these new names. This team includes the Principal Investigator Alan Stern, as well as science team members Ross Beyer, Will Grundy, William McKinnon, Jeff Moore, Cathy Olkin, Paul Schenk, Amanda Zangari ...