NASA/JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY APPLIED PHYSICS LABORATORY/SOUTHWEST RESEARCH INSTITUTE
It will not shock you to learn that NASA astronomers are major sci-fi fans. As New Horizons continues to send back mesmerizing images from Pluto and its moons, the scientists behind the spacecraft have begun to attach
names to geological features on on the dwarf planet and Charon.
The topography of Charon, the largest of Pluto's moons, is starting to read like a map of comic book convention floor. NASA's team is assigning names to impact features and craters on the orb. Spock Crater, Uhura Crater, Kirk Crater and Sulu Crater lie on the Vulcan Planum — just a stone's throw from Skywalker Crater and Vader Crater.
Charon's moutains, craters and canyons are being named according to four themes — fictional explorers, fictional locations, fictional vessels, and creators of the above. Kirk Crater, Vader Crater and all the other monikers are merely provisional until the International Astronomical Union approves them.
Is that bringing the worlds of
Star Trek and Star Wars too close for comfort? For years, the franchises were warring sides, Coke versus Pepsi. What you preferred spoke volumes. Do you like science or do you like fantasy?
Is this map of Charon is evidence that we are post-
Star-Trek-versus- Star-Wars? After all, the movies are now being made by the same guy. It is okay to enjoy both. But Star Trek is more intelligent, obviously. The NASA folks seem to have given Trek a finer piece of real estate on the distant moon.
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