Pluto New Horizons Update – My Favorite New Place Name

The scientists at JPL are assigning “unofficial” names to various features on Pluto, based on the images recieved from New Horizons. Most of these names will probably be submitted to the IAU Nomenclature Committee in due course, but in the meantime none of the names are considered anything more than provisional. But there’s at least one name I hope sticks.

If you were keeping track of New Horizons as it approached Pluto, you may remember a dark vaguely fish-shaped feature that some dubbed “The Whale”. Well, it has now been dubbed with a new name.  May I present to you… Cthulhu Regio:

cthulhu regio

Cthulhu Regio lies near Pluto’s equator just east of Tombaugh Regio (the so-called “Heart” of Pluto). It is approximately 2,990 kilometers long (1,860 miles), and is probably a much older feature than the adjacent, lighter plains of Tombaugh. Please note the splotchy area just to the right of Cthulhu in the image above.

trombaugh regio mountains

That’s Sputnik Planum and the mountain range now known as Hillary Mones.

Also released by NASA/JPL is an image of Pluto being eclipsed by the Sun.

pluto eclipse

We’re still weeks away from getting the bulk of New Horizons data packets. Most of it is still stored on the spaceship, awaiting the chance to download. Because New Horizons is so far away (signals take about 4 hours to arrive at Earth) and the transmitter is so slow, it will take most of the rest of the year to get everything. Even tho the close encounter is over, theres still much, much more to come.

But just remember… Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn. Cthulhu fhtagn! Cthulhu fhtagn!