Plotting pluto

Pluto’s landscape was unknowable

until the spacecraft New Horizons

sped past in 2015. Now our

cartographers have created

National Geographic’s first map of the

dwarf planet, with Pluto’s physical

features officially named by the

International Astronomical Union.

Here are the people, spacecraft, and

myths that provided inspiration.

DISCOVERY

North Pole

330°

30°

North Pole

300°

60°

1

90°

270°

2

240°

120°

210°

150°

180°

1

VENETIA Burney

This 11-year-old British girl gets credit for

the idea to name the celestial body “Pluto,”

after the Roman god of the underworld.

2

Clyde Tombaugh

He discovered the dwarf planet on

February 18, 1930, while working at Lowell

Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.

SCIENTISTS AND EXPLORERS

330°

30°

300°

60°

AL-IDRISI

MONTES

90°

AL-IDRISI

MONTES

270°

3

TENZING

MONTES

4

240°

5

120°

TENZING

MONTES

6

210°

150°

180°

3

MUHAMMAD al-Idrisi

The 12th-century Arab cartographer’s book

of global maps, The Book of Pleasant

Journeys Into Faraway Lands, remained

a definitive record for centuries.

4

JAMES LUDLOW ELLIOT

By carefully observing how planets block

and reveal the light of distant stars, he

discovered Uranus’s rings and

Pluto’s thin atmosphere.

5

EDMUND Hillary

The New Zealand mountaineer and

Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first

people to summit Mount Everest,

Earth’s highest point.

6

Tenzing NORGAY

The icy mountain range—as high

as 11,000 feet (3,350 meters)—is named

for the Nepali Sherpa.

PIONEERING SPACECRAFT

330°

30°

300°

60°

7

9

90°

270°

8

240°

120°

210°

150°

180°

7

Voyager

The twin probes from NASA’s first

interstellar mission launched in 1977.

Voyager 1 has left the solar system;

Voyager 2 is on its way.

8

SPUTNIK

Launched by the U.S.S.R. in 1957, Sputnik 1

was the first human-made satellite to

successfully enter Earth orbit.

9

HAYABUSA

In 2005 this unmanned Japanese spacecraft

captured the first ever sample

of a near-Earth asteroid.

UNDERWORLD MYTHOLOGY

330°

30°

300°

60°

10

90°

270°

13

14

11

240°

120°

12

210°

150°

180°

10

Djanggawul

In some Aboriginal lore the Djanggawul are

three siblings from the land of the dead

who created Earth’s vegetation.

11

Virgil

In Dante’s Divine Comedy the spirit of this

ancient Roman poet guides the author

through the levels of hell and purgatory.

Adlivun

12

From Inuit mythology, Adlivun, or “those

who live beneath us,” is both an icy, barren

underworld and the souls who reside in it.

13

Sleipnir

In Norse mythology this eight-legged

horse carries the god Odin on journeys

to the underworld.

14

Tartarus

The deepest pit in the ancient Greek

underworld, it is a prison for criminals,

monsters, and defeated deities.

Latin translations

Cavus: steep-sided depression

Dorsa: ridges

Fossa, fossae: long, narrow depression(s)

Montes: mountains

Planitia: low plain

Regio: region

Terra: large landmass

Pluto’s diameter is 1,476 mi (2,376 km),

19 percent of Earth’s 7,926 mi (12,756 km).

SOREN WALLJASPER, NGM STAFF.

Art: Matthew Twombly. Sources: Alan Stern,

Southwest Research Institute; R. Schulz, IAU-

WGPSN; R. Hayward, USGS; NASA/Johns Hopkins

University Applied Physics Laboratory

Plotting PLUTO

Pluto’s landscape was unknowable until the spacecraft New Horizons

sped past in 2015. Now our cartographers have created National Geographic’s

first map of the dwarf planet, with Pluto’s physical features officially named by

the International Astronomical Union. Here are the people, spacecraft,

and myths that provided inspiration.

BY MATTHEW W. CHWASTYK

SCIENTISTS AND

EXPLORERS

PIONEERING

SPACECRAFT

UNDERWORLD

MYTHOLOGY

DISCOVERY

Click the numbers to see the story behind each location’s name.

30°

330°

North Pole

300°

60°

10

7

9

1

270°

90°

14

3

8

13

2

4

11

240°

120°

5

Latin

translations

Dorsa: ridges

Regio: region

Planitia: low plain

Montes: mountains

Terra: large landmass

Cavus: steep-sided depression

Fossa, fossae: long, narrow depression(s)

TENZING

MONTES

6

Pluto’s diameter is 1,476 mi

(2,376 km), 19 percent of

Earth’s 7,926 mi (12,756 km).

TENZING

MONTES

12

150°

210°

180°

SOREN WALLJASPER, NGM STAFF. Art: Matthew Twombly. Sources: Alan Stern, Southwest Research Institute;

R. Schulz, IAU-WGPSN; R. Hayward, USGS; NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory