You can name a crater on Mercury. NASA recently reported that the Mercury orbiter the MESSENGER located five of the impact craters over the last three years of its mission. The Mercury orbiter has been circling the planet since March 2011.
The orbiter arrived at Mercury following an 8billion mile trip after it was launched in 2004. It will run out of fuel sometime next year. NASA and the MESSENGER Education and Public Outreach program is holding a contest to name the above-mentioned five craters.
The IAU (International Astronomical Union) has come up with specific guidelines for the contest. Since 1919 the IAU has been considered “the foremost body of planetary and satellite nomenclature.”
The IAU specifies: “All new craters on Mercury must be named after an artist, composer, or writer who was famous for more than 50 years and has been dead for more than three years.” Name submissions will be accepted up ‘til January 15, 2015 (23:59 UTC). 15 finalist names for the craters will then be chosen and forwarded to the IAU. At the end of the MESSEBGER’s mission next year the five winning crater names will be announced.
NASA and the IAU suggest that interested parties research their name choices prior to submitting them for the contest. Names for a crater may not have any military, political or religious significance.
The leader of the EPO missions team, Julio Edmond, stated: “Once online, registrants will be asked to submit a short description of their chosen individual’s contributions to their field, as well as an authoritative source for background information. This brave little craft, not much bigger than a Volkswagen Beetle, has travelled more than 8 billion miles since 2004—getting to the planet and then on its orbit”.
Scientists want to give the popular MESSENGER “a big famous final farewell. Edmond elaborates: “We would like to draw international attention to the achievements of the mission and the guiding engineers and scientists on Earth who have made the MESSENGER mission so outstandingly successful”.
The MESSENGER’s goal was to send 2,500 pictures from Mercury. As this goes to press it has sent back more than 250,000 images which reportedly mapped all of Mercury.
Edmonds concluded: “We now have a detailed, high-resolution map of the entire planet. “As scientist’s study the incredible data returned by MESSENGER, it becomes important to give names to surface features that are of special scientific interest. Having names for landforms such as mountains, craters, and cliffs makes it easier for scientists and others to communicate.”
Name A Crater On Mercury