Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mercury Crater-naming Contest Winners Announced

An image of Mercury marked with the locations of the five craters and their new names. Credit: IAU/NASA/MESSENGER

The MESSENGER Education and Public Outreach (EPO) Team, coordinated through the Carnegie Institution for Science, has announced the winners from its competition to name five impact craters on Mercury after artist’s. Entries had to be submitted by 15 January 2015, and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature made the selections from a total of 3600 submissions, and a semifinal round of 17 names. The newly selected crater names are Carolan, Enheduanna, Karsh, Kulthum, and Rivera.

Under IAU rules, 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.

Turlough O'Carolan (Carolan) was an Irish composer during the late 16th and early 17th centuries; Enheduanna, an Akkadian princess who lived in the Sumerian city of Ur in ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq and Kuwait), and is regarded by many scholars as the earliest known author and poet; Yousuf Karsh was an Armenian–Canadian and one of the greatest portrait photographers of the 20th century; Umm Kulthum was an Egyptian singer, songwriter, and film actress active between the 1920s and 1970s; and Diego Rivera was a prominent Mexican painter and muralist between the 1920s and 1950s.

NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft has been in orbit about Mercury since March 2011 and its mission is due to finally end when it impacts into the planet tomorrow. The MESSENGER spacecraft has far surpassed expectations in both the duration of its mission and in the quantity and quality of data it has provided; the goal of the craft was to take 2500 images of the planet, but it has returned more than 250 000. The EPO team organised the crater-naming competition to celebrate the mission’s achievements.

The winning suggestions came from many different countries. Carolan was suggested by Fergal Donnelly (Belguim), Joseph Brusseau (USA), and Deane Morrison (USA). Enheduanna was submitted by Gagan Toor (India). Karsh was submitted by Elizabeth Freeman Rosenzweig (USA). Kulthum was suggested by Molouk Ba-Isa (Saudi Arabia), Riana Rakotoarimanana (Switzerland), Yehya Hassouna (USA), David Suttles (USA), Thorayya Said Giovannelli (USA), and Matt Giovannelli (USA). Rivera was suggested by Ricardo Martinez (Mexico), Rebecca Hare (USA), Arturo Gutierrez (Mexico), and José Martinez (USA).

Credit: iau.org

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