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You Can Help Scientists Name Pluto's Moons!

The discoverers of Pluto's fourth and fifth moons are letting Internet users have a say in what they should be named.

The discoverers of Pluto's fourth and fifth moons are letting Internet users have a say in what they should be named, by throwing the question open for a non-binding advisory vote.

The "Pluto Rocks" project, organized by the SETI Institute, is part of a trend pointing toward getting the public involved in the outer-space naming process.

This time, the objects to be named are two tiny satellites of Pluto that were found during a detailed analysis of data from the Hubble Space Telescope: P4, which was discovered in 2011; and P5, detected just last year. 

The ballot on the Pluto Rocks website offers 12 potential names for perusal, all of which follow the precedent that Pluto and its moons are named after Greek or Roman mythological figures with a connection to the underworld. Pluto, for example, was master of the underworld.

The 12 suggested names for P4 and P5 are Acheron, Alecto, Cerberus, Erebus, Eurydice, Heracles, Hypnos, Lethe, Obol, Orpheus, Persephone and Styx. Some of these names have already been used for asteroids, and in those cases, the teams might go for variant spellings just to avoid any confusion (for example, Orfeus instead of Orpheus, or Kerberos instead of Cerberus). Write-in votes are also allowed, and some of those write-ins might end up being added to the official ballot.

The voting deadline is Feb. 25. 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.

To vote on a name:


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