NASA's New Horizon's team met with the legendary '70s and '80s band STYX on Wednesday. Since the rock band shares the same name as Pluto's faintest lunar rock, it only seems fitting that the band would meet the scientist who discovered Styx (the moon, not the band) in 2012.
The stars aligned at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., which is the mission operations center for New Horizons. STYX stopped by while on tour with Def Leppard. The unmanned New Horizons spacecraft is on its final approach to Pluto and its moons, just days away from a historic July 14 flyby that will return the first images of the mysterious dwarf planet.
STYX's Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitar), Lawrence Gowan (vocals, keyboards) and Todd Sucherman (drums) were treated to a tour of New Horizons mission control from mission operations manager Alice Bowman, according to a press release. Principal investigator Alan Stern wowed the trio with the latest images from New Horizons. Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute, who discovered Pluto's Styx in 2012, told the group of "Come Sail Away" fame that he's a longtime fan. Showalter switched roles with the rock stars and autographed a poster of Pluto and its moons for the group with, "I wish Styx (had been) so easy to see from Hubble! Would have made our lives a lot easier."
The band Styx chose its name in 1972, four decades before Pluto's fifth moon was spotted. The name refers to the river in Greek mythology between earth and the underworld.
Styx the moon - previously known as simply P5 - was christened by the International Astronomical Union, to the disappointment of Star Trek fans, who had campaigned for "Vulcan," shared by the Roman god for volcanoes.
"When Pluto's moon was named, it was for the river Styx, but no kidding, we really had you guys in mind too," Stern joked with the band.