We love to leave our mark wherever we explore. We like to say that “we were here.” We like to name whatever we find that we don’t know much about. Names bring a certain personal connection between us and the inanimate objects we find around us. It’s a good thing that there seem to be no end of things to name in the Universe.
Now you can help name craters on Mercury! Five craters need names and the MESSENGER team has opened up a competition for these names. Now, the submissions have to follow IAU (International Astronomical Union) guidelines since the fifteen semifinalists will be submitted to that official naming body.
The names have to be of “an artist, composer, or writer who was famous for more than 50 years and has been dead for more than three years.” And it has to be unique, not used anywhere else in the Solar System. So who would you honor with their very own crater on the surface of Mercury?
The announcement of the winners will coincide with the end of MESSENGER’s incredibly fruitful mission to the planet closest to our Sun. We have many of those images as part of our Planet Mappers project, and you can mark craters and other surface features on Mercury. (Don’t tell the Moon and Vesta, but Mercury is actually my favorite to mark!)
You can enter your submissions to the naming contest here through January 15. Enjoy!