Vulcan Planum


Vulcan Planum
An annotated map of Charon, with Vulcan Planum in the southern hemisphere.
Coordinates0°N 0°W / 0°N -0°E / 0; -0Coordinates: 0°N 0°W / 0°N -0°E / 0; -0[1]
DiscovererNew Horizons

Vulcan Planum /ˈvʌlkən/ is the unofficial name given to a large plain on the surface of Pluto's moon Charon, discovered by New Horizons during its flyby of Pluto in July 2015. It is named after the fictional planet Vulcan in the science-fiction series Star Trek. The name is not approved by International Astronomical Union, as of 2020.


Vulcan Planum is in the southern hemisphere of Charon. Its extents are not completely known, but it occupies at least 400,000 km2 (150,000 sq mi).[2] Vulcan Planum is separated from Oz Terra by a series of scarps that are several kilometers high.[3] It has a mostly smooth surface with no large craters, and its elevation is about 1 km lower than Oz Terra's. This suggests that Vulcan Planum is younger than Oz, and formed as a result of a large cryoflow, which has solidified.[4]

The more significant craters have been named after characters from Star Trek, while two mountains have been named after science-fiction authors and directors.

List of named geological features

The features included this table lie within Vulcan Planum.

Feature Type Named After Mythos
Clarke Mons Mountain Arthur C. Clarke Science-fiction author
Kubrick Mons Mountain Stanley Kubrick Science-fiction author
Kirk Crater James T. Kirk Star Trek series
Spock Crater Crater Spock Star Trek series
Sulu Crater Crater Hikaru Sulu Star Trek series
Uhura Crater Crater Nyota Uhura Star Trek series


  1. ^ "Global map of Charon". Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  2. ^ Beyer, Ross A.; Spencer, John R.; McKinnon, William B.; et al. (May 2019). "The nature and origin of Charon's smooth plains". Icarus. 323: 16–32. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2018.12.036. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  3. ^ O’Hanlon, Larry (26 February 2019). "New map reveals geology and history of Pluto's moon Charon". GeoSpace. American Geophysical Union. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  4. ^ Robbins, Stuart J.; Beyer, Ross A.; Spencer, John R.; et al. (January 2019). "Geologic Landforms and Chronostratigraphic History of Charon as Revealed by a Hemispheric Geologic Map". Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. 124 (1): 155–174. doi:10.1029/2018JE005684. Retrieved 6 April 2020.