Let’s face it, this is as close to being a deep-space explorer as many of us will ever be.
NASA’s New Horizons project — which is expected to make history’s first flyby of Pluto in July — is asking the public to help name the geographical features found on the dwarf planet.
Mountains, craters and any other features spotted on Pluto will be given names by the International Astronomical Union, the body that assigns names to celestial bodies. In March, NASA announced it was accepting ideas for names from the public and earlier this month, New Horizons scientist Mark Showalter said over 40,000 “thoughtful submissions” had been sent.
The SETI Institute, a non-profit group that conducts research into the study of life in the universe, has set up a poll that allows users to vote for proposed names to be sent to the IAU. The ballot is broken into three categories of names: history, literature and mythology.
Some of the most entertaining choices come from the literature category, which includes fictional locations like Vulcan, Krypton and Narnia. Other options include fictional characters from popular series like “Alien,” “Star Wars” and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
The SETI Institute’s poll indicates it wanted names that “will be representative of all the cultures of the world.”
Voting closes on Friday.
Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.