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UNITED STATES 25 Feb 2013 SETI deadline for naming Pluto moons
The discoverers of ex-planet Pluto’s fourth and fifth moons are asking the public to choose names for the space rocks from a list. The d

February 25, 2013 - NULL

UNITED STATES 25 Feb 2013 SETI deadline for naming Pluto moons
The discoverers of ex-planet Pluto's fourth and fifth moons are asking the public to choose names for the space rocks from a list. The deadline is Feb 28. The ballot, organized by the California-based SETI Institute, is on http://plutorocks.seti.org. By tradition, the moons of Pluto have names associated with Hades and the underworld. Though the public input can be counted on to sway the vote, the International Astronomical Union (ITU) has the last word on the names. The ITU is best known for demoting Pluto, while

UNITED STATES 25 Feb 2013 SETI deadline for naming Pluto moons
The discoverers of ex-planet Pluto's fourth and fifth moons are asking the public to choose names for the space rocks from a list. The deadline is Feb 28. The ballot, organized by the California-based SETI Institute, is on http://plutorocks.seti.org. By tradition, the moons of Pluto have names associated with Hades and the underworld. Though the public input can be counted on to sway the vote, the International Astronomical Union (ITU) has the last word on the names. The ITU is best known for demoting Pluto, while SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence ), as its name suggests, is best known for its search for communications from outer Space .

Pluto is smaller than Earth's moon, and Charon, its largest moon, is half its size, and is named after the boatman who ferried the souls of the dead across the River Styx. The moons Nix and Hydra, discovered in 2005, were named after the goddess of the night and a many-headed monster that guarded one of the entrances to the underworld.

The candidates for P4 and P5 are: Acheron, Alecto, Cerberus, Erebus, Eurydice, Heracles, Hypnos, Lethe, Obol, Orpheus, Persephone and Styx.

P4 was discovered in 2011 in images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. P5 was discovered a year later during a more intensive search for previously unseen objects orbiting the distant, dwarf planet. The moons are only 15 to 20 miles across. Pluto is receiving special scrutiny by astronomers because NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is slated to arrive there in Jul 2015.

The SETI Institute says its mission is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe. "We believe we are conducting the most profound search in human history -- to know our beginnings and our place among the stars," the SETI website explains.

After the vote, the discovery teams will choose two names to submit to the IAU, and announce which names won out after their formal approval -- most likely by April or so. (WRITTEN FEB 2013)

KEYWORDS: Pluto moons, names, naming, vote, P4, P5, Charon, Hades, February 2013, SETI Institute, SETI vote, SETI ballot, Pluto rocks, California, United States, extraterrestrial intelligence, signals, outer Space, Space news, astronomy news

RELATED READING:

SETI
http://www.seti.org/

Ballot
http://plutorocks.seti.org

IAU
http://www.iau.org

Date written/update: 2013-02-25