The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has approved naming of two mountain ranges on Pluto after the first two people known to have scaled the world’s highest mountain peak, Mount Everest.
Tenzing Montes and Hillary Montes are two mountain ranges that honour Indian/Nepali Sherpa Tenzing Norgay (1914-1986) and New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008), the first-ever mountaineers confirmed to reach the summit of Mount Everest on 29 May 1953 and return safely. They were part of the ninth British expedition to Everest, led by John Hunt.
• The two assigned names are the first set among 14 others that got an official go ahead from IAU for naming 14 geological features identified on the icy dwarf planet.
• The names were officially approved by the Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature of IAU, the internationally recognised authority for naming celestial bodies and their surface features.
• All the approved names recognize and pay homage to pioneering space missions, the underworld mythology, historic pioneers who crossed new horizons in exploration and scientists and engineers associated with Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.
• Some names were suggested by members of the public during the 'Our Pluto' campaign, which was launched as a partnership between the IAU, the New Horizons project and the SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) Institute.
• Other names had been used informally by the New Horizons science team to describe the regions, mountain ranges, plains, valleys and craters discovered on Pluto during the close flyby by the New Horizons spacecraft in July 2015 that gave the first close-up look at the surfaces of the planet and its largest moon, Charon.
According to Rita Schulz, Chairperson of the IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature in the Netherlands, the names highlight the importance of pushing to the frontiers of discovery.
Following is the list of other approved names:
Tombaugh Regio: It honours the US astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930 from Lowell Observatory in Arizona.
Burney crater: It honours Venetia Burney, who at the age of 11 years suggested the name "Pluto" for Clyde Tombaugh's newly discovered planet. She grew on to become a mathematics and economics professor.
Sputnik Planitia: The large plain is named after Sputnik 1, the first-ever space satellite, which was launched by the Soviet Union 4 October 1957.
Al-Idrisi Montes: It honours Ash-Sharif al-Idrisi, a noted Arab mapmaker and geographer, who created the first most accurate map of the world in pre-modern times.
Djanggawul Fossae: The network of long, narrow depressions has been named after Djanggawuls, three ancestral beings in indigenous Australian mythology who travelled between the island of the dead and Australia, creating the landscape and filling it with vegetation.
Sleipnir Fossa: It is named after the powerful, eight-legged horse of Norse mythology- the mythology of the North Germanic people- that carried god Odin, who is associated with healing, death, royalty, gallows, knowledge, battle, sorcery and poetry, into the underworld.
Virgil Fossae: It honours Virgil, who is known as one of Rome’s greatest poets. His work is known to have a wide and deep influence on Western literature.
Adlivun Cavus: It is a deep depression named after Adlivun, which refers to both spirits of the departed who reside in the underworld and the underworld itself in Inuit mythology, the mythology of the indigenous people of Alaska, Canada and Greenland.
Hayabusa Terra: It is a large land mass that honours the Japanese spacecraft and mission (2003-2010) that returned with the first asteroid sample.
Voyager Terra: It honours the pair of NASA spacecraft, launched in 1977, which performed the first ‘grand tour’ of all four giant planets. The Voyager spacecraft are now probing the boundary between the Sun and interstellar space.