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Pluto's craters to receive 'Star Trek' names say scientists

By VERONICA LINARES, UPI.com   |   July 3, 2013 at 10:34 AM   |   Comments

July 3 (UPI) -- Although "Star Trek" fans were unable to name one of Pluto's newfound moons "Vulcan," they will get a second chance to leave their mark on the planet.

According to Space.com researchers are considering giving "Star Trek" names to the craters, mountains and other features found on the dwarf planet when NASA's New Horizons spacecraft gets the first up-close views of Pluto in 2015.

"We might have craters called Sulu and Spock and Kirk and McCoy and so on," Mark Showalter of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, Calif., said during a Google+ Hangout Tuesday.

Showalter led the team that discovered Pluto's two smallest known moons in 2001 and 2012. After their uncovering, the SETI Institute sponsored an online poll called Pluto Rocks that had participants vote to name the planet's satellites.

"Vulcan," the name of both a planet and the beings who evolved there in the "Stark Trek" universe, won the poll by a longshot with 170,000 votes of the 500,000 votes cast. However, the name was axed because IAU rules say Pluto's moons must be named after characters associated with the underworld in Greek and Roman mythology.

The planet's two moons were named after the second and third place entries in the contest which were Kerberos and Styx.

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