Pluto’s Tiny Moon Needs a Name


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As far as baby names go, P4 is both unimaginative and lacking character. Nevertheless, that’s what NASA’s calling the tiny little rock recently discovered orbiting Pluto, at least until the International Astronomical Union (IAU) settles on something with a bit more personality.

At just 8 to 21 miles across, P4 is smaller than a city on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam, but like all objects crossing or approaching the orbit of Neptune, it’ll get a wicked awesome mythological name. The IAU will try to honor the decision of SETI’s Mark Showalter, who discovered P4. What’s his choice? “This is a topic under discussion,” Showalter told Life’s Little Mysteries, but mentioned that Cerberus “seems to come up most.”

Cerberus is the three-headed watchdog of Hell in Greek mythos, and brother of many-headed serpent Hydra, another of Pluto’s moons. Unfortunately, Cerberus has already been bestowed upon an asteroid. This doesn’t rule out its availability for P4, though–the alternate Greek spelling, Kerberos, is still up for grabs. If the SPACE.com readers’ poll has its way, though, we’ll be calling the little guy Mickey.

Learn all about Pluto's weirdly eccentric orbit, four moons and more in this SPACE.com infographic.

Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

[source] [image: NASA, ESA, and M. Showalter (SETI institute)]





7 Responses to Pluto’s Tiny Moon Needs a Name

  1. It's too small for a name. I say we take this opportunity to see if we can make Pluto a little bigger, and test our ability to alter the trajectories of solar bodies at great distances. P4 in the corner pocket anyone?

  2. Since Pluto has recently been stripped of the right to be called a planet, pluto is almost like the bastard son of our solar system… Therefore, I think the new planet should be named Spurius, which is latin for bastard. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as something that is "outwardly similar or corresponding to something without having its genuine qualities"