KATHMANDU: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has announced that newly discovered Pluto’s mountain ranges now officially bear the names of legendary mountaineers Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary, who first stood atop the world’s highest peak in 1953.
Pluto’s first official surface-feature names are marked on this map, compiled from images and data gathered by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft during its flight through the Pluto system in 2015. Courtesy: NASA/IAU
“Tenzing Montes and Hillary Montes are mountain ranges honoring Tenzing Norgay (1914–1986) and Sir Edmund Hillary (1919–2008), the mountaineers were the first to reach the summit of Mt Everest and return safely,” NASA’s New Horizons team recently said in a statement.
The announcement was made after International Astronomical Union, the internationally recognised authority for naming celestial bodies and their surface features, approved the names of mountain ranges on Pluto as Tenzing Montes and Hillary Montes.
Tenzing Norgay Sherpa is the first Nepali to have any place named after him/her in the solar system.
Talking to THT after Nepal’s landmark in the solar system, Norbu Tenzing Norgay, the eldest son of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa commented that this was truly an honor and an interstellar recognition.
“On behalf of the Tenzing Norgay Sherpa family we would like to thank the International Astronomical Union for naming a range of mountains ‘Tenzing montes’ on the icy planet of Pluto,” Norbu along with his youngest brother Dhamey Tenzing Norgay said in a joint statement.
64 years ago on May 29, 1953, Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary tested the limits of human endurance in their historic first ascent of Mt Everest, the Sherpa family shared while talking to this daily. It was the highest point on earth that humans had ever set foot on – next stop was the moon, they added.
“We’re very excited to approve names recognizing people of significance to Pluto and the pursuit of exploration as well as the mythology of the underworld.
These names highlight the importance of pushing to the frontiers of discovery,” the NASA’s statement quoted Rita Schulz, chair of the IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature as saying. The height as well and the origin of the hills are yet to be known.
The names were proposed by New Horizons team following the first reconnaissance of Pluto and its moons by the New Horizons spacecraft in 2015. The scientists had informally given the names to the mountain ranges as Norgay Montes.
“A total of 14 Pluto place names have now been made official by the IAU; many more will soon be proposed to the IAU, both on Pluto and on its moons,” NASA said in the recent statement.
In Nepal, the government has already named two Himalayan peaks near Mt Everest after Hillary at 7,681 metres and Tenzing Norgay at 7,916 metres and also opened them for climbing in 2014.
Source: Himalayan Times