February 12, 2013
By Jim Moore
An artist’s concept shows Pluto as seen from one of its moons. Image credit: NASA, ESA and G. Bacon.
An 11-year-old girl gave Pluto its name, so it’s only fitting that the SETI Institute is calling on the public at large to suggest names for the dwarf planet’s newly discovered moons.
Pluto (then deemed a full-fledged planet) was itself a recent discovery back in 1930, when Venitia Burney’s grandfather read a newspaper account of the ninth planet from the sun. Burney suggested Pluto. The Disney character would be introduced to the world that same year, but the youngster was thinking Roman mythology, the god of the underworld able to make himself invisible. The suggestion was relayed to astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered “Planet X,” and Pluto has been Pluto ever since, even though it is no longer considered a planet, but a dwarf planet.
“I like to think that we are doing honor to Tombaugh's legacy by now opening up the naming of Pluto's two tiniest known moons to everyone,” wrote Mark Showalter, on behalf of the SETI Institute team that discovered P4 and P5 in a blog post.
The team has suggested a dozen names drawn from Greek and Roman mythology, though write-in votes are also allowed. Voting will continue online through Feb. 25.
Environmental groups are asking the EPA to take another look at avgas even as a government-industry program moves closer to finding unleaded alternatives.
Collaboration between the German government, academia, and airplane manufacturers may make future aircraft cabins more protective of pilots and passengers. The Safety Box team plans to apply auto racing technology to general aviation.
A father and his 14-year-old son were helping another pilot ferry a newly purchased aircraft from California to their home field in Virginia. The three made an overnight stop in Albuquerque before flying on to Illinois for fuel. But shortly after they parked the aircraft in Marion, Ill., they were approached by as many as 18 uniformed and non-uniformed law enforcement officers who came running toward the airplane.
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