Now that the New Horizons mission has provided NASA with the most detailed images yet of Pluto and its largest moon Charon, it’s time for scientists to put names to the previously unknown surface features. And things have gotten pretty nerdy.
Maps the New Horizons team will submit to the International Astronomical Union for approval include nods to mythology, naturally. But there are also shout-outs to Star Trek, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, Firefly, Alien and H.P. Lovecraft.
Okay, maybe not. But someone at the space agency is a comic-book nerd — go figure! — the stunning image of the day on the NASA website is accompanied by the headline “A Green Ring Fit for a Superhero.” It’s a shot from the Spitzer Space Telescope of a glowing emerald nebula “reminiscent of the glowing ring wielded by the superhero Green Lantern.” The description goes on to name check the Guardians of Oa, power rings and the Green Lantern Corps. Visit the NASA website to enjoy the image at full size.