KATHMANDU, July 18
The country’s mountaineering fraternity has expressed happiness over Nepal’s first landmark in the solar system after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration named Pluto’s icy mountains, which were reported on Wednesday, after the legendary mountaineer Tenzing Norgay Sherpa.
Organising a press conference to reveal details about NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto yesterday, the scientists announced they were naming the mountainous region as Norgay Montes (Norgay Mountains) in honour of Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who first successfully summited Mt Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary on May 29, 1953.
NASA’s honour has brought great joy to the family members of Tenzing Norgay in Nepal. “It’s a great honour for Nepal and the Sherpas,” Tashi Tenzing, the grandson of Tenzing Norgay said. NASA’s move naming the first extraterrestrial landscape after Norgay will certainly play a crucial role in promoting Nepal’s tourism across the globe, Tashi, who is also the country’s tourism goodwill ambassador for Australia told this daily.
“He is the first Nepali to have any place named after him in the solar system,” Public Broadcasting Service quoted New Horizons co-investigator Jeff Moore of NASA Ames research centre as announcing at a NASA news conference. According to him, some of these mountains in the Norgay Montes are up to two miles high, as tall as those in the Rocky Mountains.
Amelia Hillary, granddaughter of Sir Edmund Hillary, believed that the NASA move honouring the legendary climber would benefit Nepal’s tourism and mountaineering sectors as a whole. “It’s an exciting achievement for Nepal as well as a great honour to Tenzing Norgay,” Amelia who has been helping out in earthquake ravaged areas in rural parts of the country, told this daily over phone from Sindhupalchowk.
Tulsi Gautam, director general at the Department of Tourism under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation appreciated the American space agency for awarding Nepal its first landmark in the solar system by naming the newly discovered icy mountains of Pluto after Tenzing Norgay Sherpa. Such honour and recognition will encourage tourism stakeholders as they are struggling hard to revive the country’s tourism businesses in the aftermath of the devastating April 25 earthquake and its subsequent aftershocks, he said, adding that the government has already named two Himalayan peaks near Mount Everest after Hillary at 7,681 metres and Tenzing Norgay at 7,916 metres and also opened them for climbing last year.
Ang Tshering Sherpa, president, Nepal Mountaineering Association said NASA’s announcement honouring the legendary climber had enthralled the entire mountaineering community. That’s a great achievement for NASA and also a great honour for the legendary hero, Lhakpa Sherpa commented recounting that his father also had the chance of working with NASA Everest Expedition a few years ago.
The NASA team also released a flyby animation of the mountain range, which is made of ice, and a peek at a set of frozen plains located to the north, which have been dubbed Sputnik Planum after the original space explorer: Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite above Earth, the PBS reported.
A version of this article appears in print on July 19, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.