A crater -- the big circular depression formed on the surface of a planetary body due to hypervelocity impact of a smaller body -- on the surface of Pluto's largest moon, Charon, has been named after Revati, wife of Lord Balarama in the 'Mahabharata'.
International Astronomical Union (IAU), the international agency which has the "authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them," in a press release published on their website on April 12 said, "Legendary explorers and visionaries, real and fictitious, are among those immortalised by the IAU in the first set of official surface-feature names for Pluto’s largest moon, Charon."
The names for 12 features of Charon, which focus on literature and mythology of exploration, were proposed by the New Horizons team and approved by IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature. The New Horizons is NASA's spacecraft assigned to study the Pluto.
IAU says Revati of 'Mahabharata' is "widely regarded as the first in history (circa 400 BC) to include the concept of time travel."
What is time travelling?
It is the idea of travelling forward in time. Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity says that if one can travel at the speed of light, time passes at a different rate than that of the earth. "If one were to leave Earth in a spacecraft travelling at an appreciable fraction of lightspeed, turn around and come back, only a few years might have passed on board but many years could have gone by on Earth. This is known as the "twins paradox" since a traveller undertaking such a journey would return to find herself much younger than her twin."
Revati and time travelling
Revati, according to one version of the myth, was taken to Brahmalok to meet Brahma by her father, King Kakudumi. He wanted Brahma to suggest the best groom for his only daughter. Brahma was listening to 'Gandharva' music when they arrived.
After waiting for a while, Kakudumi expressed his wish and presented his shortlist of 'candidates'. Brahma told him that more than 100 yugas (eons) have already passed on earth as the speed of time in Brahmalok is different than that of the earth. Brahma also informed him that all his 'candidates' have already died. To pacify him, Brahma suggested marrying Balarama.
The approved Charon names
*Argo Chasma is the name given to the ship sailed by Jason and the Argonauts in the epic Greek poem 'Argonautica' during their quest for the Golden Fleece.
*Butler Mons honours Octavia E Butler, the first science-fiction writer, to win a MacArthur Fellowship, and whose Xenogenesis trilogy describes humankind’s departure from Earth and subsequent return.
*Caleuche Chasma is the name given to mythological ghost ship that travels the seas around the small island of Chiloé, off the coast of Chile. According to legend, the Caleuche explores the coastline collecting the dead, who then live aboard it forever.
*Clarke Montes honours Sir Arthur C Clarke, the prolific science-fiction writer and futurist whose novels and short stories (including 2001: A Space Odyssey) were imaginative depictions of space exploration.
*Dorothy Crater recognises the protagonist in the series of children’s novels by L Frank Baum that follows Dorothy Gale’s travels to and adventures in the magical world of Oz.
*Kubrick Mons honours film director Stanley Kubrick, whose iconic '2001: A Space Odyssey' tells the story of humanity’s evolution from tool-using hominids to space explorers and beyond.
*Mandjet Chasma is the name of one of the boats in Egyptian mythology that carried sun god Ra (Re) across the sky each day — making it one of the earliest mythological examples of a vessel of space travel.
*Nasreddin Crater is the name of the protagonist in thousands of humorous folktales told throughout the Middle East, southern Europe and parts of Asia.
*Nemo Crater is the name given to the captain of the 'Nautilus', the submarine in Jules Verne’s novels 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea' (1870) and 'The Mysterious Island' (1874).
*Pirx Crater is named after the main character in a series of short stories by Stanislaw Lem, who travels between the Earth, Moon and Mars.
*Revati Crater is named after the main character in the Hindu epic narrative 'Mahabharata', widely regarded as the first in history (circa 400 BC) to include the concept of time travel.
*Sadko Crater recognises the adventurer who travelled to the bottom of the sea in the medieval Russian epic 'Bylina'*.