I'm really excited about the opportunity we've been able to provide, partnering with NASA and the IAU, for you, the public, to share in the excitement of mapping Pluto by contributing to our name nominations databank and by voting for your favorite nominations.
As the mission Principal Investigator, I thought I'd tell you about my favorite themes (after all, everybody has their favorites!).
Mine are the ones that honor the explorers of land, sea, and sky (including space!) and previous space missions and spacecraft. Why those? Because New Horizons is very much a mission of exploration, and has so many times been called the capstone of the first era of reconnaissance of the planets of our solar system. As such, I think that it's both right, and it's romantic, to honor the space missions and the space mission pioneers and scientists who helped shape the wonderful first era of planetary reconnaissance with names on features on Pluto, this farthest shore and capstone of early planetary reconnaissance.
My least favorite themes involve the underworld. Why? Because I think these sadden Pluto and its moons as places, and focus on negatives like death, dying, haunting, and terror, rather than positives like human exploration.
You might agree with me, or you might not. If you do, I hope you'll nominate and vote in the categories I particularly like. And if you don't, vote and nominate anyway.
We want to hear your ideas!