Now you can name a crater on Mars

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, February 27, 2014

Photo credit: David J. Eicher
Thanks to Alan Stern’s Uwingu project, you can now help to raise money for science funding by naming craters on Mars. The latest? Eicher Crater, 10.5 kilometers in diameter, nestled next to Sagan Crater, at latitude 10.32° N, longitude 330.22° E. Where else? The naming is unofficial as far as the IAU is concerned, but hey — if it raises money for astronomy, cosmology, and planetary exploration, why not? You can find out more at uwingu.com.

The whole Astronomy staff has taken a turn in naming martian craters, and I invite you to do it too, to support astronomical research. Here is the full Uwingu press release:


(Press Release) — February 26, 2014 — Boulder, Colorado

For years, space mission rover teams have taken it upon themselves to name landmarks on Mars.

Beginning today, the public can get involved in Mars exploration much the same way. Through Uwingu’s redesigned web site at www.uwingu.com, now anyone can help to create the Uwingu’s new Mars map, with names for all the approximately 500,000 unnamed but scientifically cataloged craters on Mars.

In almost 50 years of Mars exploration by spacecraft, only about 15,000 features have been named on Mars by scientists and others around the world. Yet over 500,000 martian craters cataloged from NASA and European space mission imagery remain unnamed. Uwingu is setting a goal of naming all these unnamed martian craters and completing its new Mars map before 2015 — the 50th anniversary year of humankind’s first missions to Mars.

The completed project aims to generate over $10 million in funds for space research and education — larger than any other private space grant program in history.

Uwingu’s Mars map grandfathers in all the already named craters on Mars but opens the remainder up for naming by people around the globe. Unnamed craters in the Mars database range from under a kilometer across to over 350 kilometers (over 200 miles) across. Craters can be named for almost anything or anyone, including friends, family, co-workers, heroes, pets, places on Earth or in space, sports teams, musical artists.

Says Uwingu’s advisor and Mars scientist Dr. Teresa Segura, “This project is truly groundbreaking for public participation in the exploration of Mars. Only imagination limits your choices, and I love that it supports funding for space research and education.”

Prices for naming craters vary, depending on the size of the crater, and begin at $5.

Uwingu makes a shareable Web link and a naming certificate available to each crater namer for each newly named crater.

“Every crater named on this public Mars map contributes to the Uwingu fund for space research and education,” added Uwingu founder and planetary scientist Dr. Alan Stern, “So name a crater on Mars — and make an impact on your own!”

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