Surface Features of Charon Mapped
We can hear you asking “What good is a Charon Map going to do?”
The answer is simple: That should be one of the three things to pick in case you somehow end up in a desert Charon.
We expect an additional question at this point: “What kind of a journey can go that wrong?”
We leave the answer to your imagination.. 🙂
Apart from our Moon, some of the Solar System moons represent more importance than others. And from Pluto moons family, Charon too put her name on the list after being discovered in 1978. Basic reason behind this is, she is extremely close and mutually tidally locked with Pluto which is the only example in our Solar System. In that respect, Pluto-Charon System is considered as the only known binary planet system in our neighbourhood.
Before Charon, many moons either bigger compared to others or having closeby pictures were already mapped in details. Some of them are Phobos of Mars (smallest satellite having surface names), Galileo moons of Jupiter, big Saturn and Uranus moons together with Neptune‘s Triton.
New Horizons Team’s Extended Pluto Map
In that aspect, after obtaining nearby images via New Horizons Spacecraft in 2015 and capturing extremely detailed surface features unveiled quite many Charon and Pluto facts, it was time to name surface features on Charon.
Initially New Horizons Team started naming all regions for the sake of classification and identification of areas with different properties and features.
The team had detailed images of the encountered hemisphere and prepared above Charon map. Those names were used both internally and on published articles.
Official Names of Charon Surface Features – IAU’s Charon Map Announced
New Horizons Team prepared a Pluto Map like they did for Charon, and both set of names were delivered to International Astronomical Union (IAU) as this committee undertakes such duties. In 2017 and 2019, IAU announced two sets of Pluto surface feature names and pretty much all major identified features were mapped.
On 11 April 2018, IAU was ready to announce the official surface names for Charon as well. Similar to Pluto surface names, the feature names for moon Charon were offered by New Horizons Team and IAU confirmed only some of the names with an announcement.
Those names on Charon Map for different mountains, valleys, craters and chasmas were collected by New Horizons Team from astronomers all over the world and the final list served to IAU was a compilation of those with multi-national spirit.
You’ll have fun when you recognize some of the names from science fiction!
Names of Terrains on IAU’s Charon Map
Here is a list and brief description of feature names on Charon map in alphabetic order:
While Argo is a vessel name in Greek mythology, this area includes a huge canyon located on east part of the encountered surface of Charon. According to researchers, it is about 700 kilometers long and can be as deep as 9 kilometers – 5 times deeper than Grand Canyon!
Octavia E. Butler is a science fiction author and her name is honored on those mountain ranges. Those set of mountains are visible on south east part of visible hemisphere.
That feature is located on the north west part of the satellite where the name stands for a ghost ship in Chilean mythology.
Those mountain ranges are named in honor to famous science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. Those mountain ranges are on west side of Butler Mons.
Dorothy Gale is a fictional character in L. Frank Baum‘s well-known novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. The area is a basin for some craters on north east.
Is named in honor to phenomenal director Stanley Kubrick. Those mountain ranges are adjacent to Argo Chasma in north west side. Together with Clarke Mons, both mountains are placed in a huge moat.
Is a name of another sea vehicle, and this time it comes from Egyptian mythology. Located on the south west, this area includes a huge rugged surface feature.
Nasreddin (Hoca) is a protagonist and mostly an anonymous character of funny jokes from early Turkish stories. The crater named in his honor is located on a couple of kilometers west part of the center of Charon map.
Nemo is the captain of the submarine in famous novel of Jules Verne: “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and “The Mysterious Island“. This is one of the biggest craters on the surface.
Is named in honor to the main fictional character in consecutive series of short stories written by Stanislaw Lem. The crater is located on north west, close to the brown north cap.
This feature is positioned on east part of global Charon map and the name comes from a character in Hindu narration Mahabharata.
While name Sadko stands for a character from an epic story from Russian lands around 10th century, the crater is located close to the south pole of Charon.
Are All Charon Surfaces Named?
No, they are not. You can clearly see that from the global Charon map.
As mentioned above, feature names for Pluto were announced in 2 different sets with a 2 years interval by IAU. Besides that, there are several areas not mapped, especially on the far side of Pluto.
This means several areas will remain “unnamed” for some more time. However, we can expect an additional announcement from IAU in the near future.
Our vote is open: More names from Science Fiction please!
- 03-2016, “The Geology of Charon As Revealed By New Horizons“
J. M. Moore, J. R. Spencer, W. B. McKinnon, R. A. Beyer, S.A. Stern, K. Ennico, C.B. Olkin, H.A. Weaver, L.A. Young, New Horizons Science Team
Link: ( https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20170009828.pdf )
- 05-2017, “Charon Tectonics“
Ross A. Beyer, Francis Nimmo, William B. McKinnon, Jeffrey M. Moore, Richard P. Binzel, Jack W. Conrad, Andy Cheng, K. Ennico, Tod R. Lauer, C. B. Olkin, Stuart Robbins, Paul Schenk, Kelsi Singer, John R. Spencer, S. Alan Stern, H. A. Weaver, L. A. Young, Amanda M. Zangari
Link: ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5599803/ )
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