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Ten Craters on Mercury Receive New Names
Ten Craters on Mercury Receive New Names
16 Mar 2010
(Source: John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory)

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to confer names on 10 impact craters on Mercury. The newly named craters were imaged during the mission's three flybys of Mercury in January and October 2008 and September 2009.

The IAU has been the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919. In keeping with the established naming theme for craters on Mercury, all of the craters are named after famous deceased artists, musicians, or authors.

"All of the newly named features figure importantly in ongoing analysis of Mercury's geological history," says MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "The MESSENGER Science Team is pleased that the IAU has responded promptly to our latest request for new names, so that the identities of these craters in the scientific literature can be clearly conveyed."

The newly named craters include:

  • Bek, named for the chief royal sculptor (active c. 1340 B.C.) during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten, a Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt. Bek is credited with the development of the "Amarna Style," the distinctive and often peculiar combination of the exceptionally mannered and the naturalistic.
  • Copland, for Aaron Copland (1900-1990), an American composer of concert and film music, as well as an accomplished pianist. He was instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition and is widely known as the dean of American composers.
  • Debussy, for Claude Debussy (1862-1918), among the most important of French composers and one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music. He was a central figure in European music at the turn of the 20th Century.
  • Dominici, for Maria de Dominici (1645-1703), a Maltese sculptor and painter said to have made portable cult figures used for street processions on religious feast days.
  • Firdousi, for Hak?m Abu'l-Q?sim Firdaws? T?s? (935-1020), a revered Persian poet and author of the Sh?hn?meh, the national epic of Persian people and of the Iranian world.
  • Geddes, for Wilhelmina Geddes (1887-1955), an Irish stained-glass artist and member of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Her work represented a rejection of the Late Victorian approach, and she created a new view of men in stained glass windows, portraying them with close-shaven crew cuts.
  • Hokusai, for Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), a Japanese artist and printmaker of the Edo period. He was Japan's leading expert on Chinese painting and is best-known as author of the woodblock print series, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, which includes the iconic and internationally recognized print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, created during the 1820s.
  • Kipling, for Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), a British author and poet regarded as a major innovator in the art of the short story. He is best known for his works of fiction, poems, and many short stories, including those in The Jungle Book (1894).
  • Picasso, for Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), a Spanish painter, draughtsman, and sculptor best known for co-founding the Cubist movement and for the wide variety of styles embodied in his work.
  • Steichen, for Edward Steichen (1879-1973), an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator. He was the most frequently featured photographer in Alfred Stieglitz's groundbreaking magazine Camera Work during its run from 1903 to 1917.

These 10 newly named craters join 42 other craters named since MESSENGER's first Mercury flyby in January 2008.

More information about the names of features on Mercury and the other objects in the Solar System can be found at the U.S. Geological Survey's Planetary Nomenclature Web site:http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/index.html.


Teachers Sought as NASA MESSENGER Educator Fellows

Teachers from across the U.S. are invited to apply to become Educator Fellows for NASA's MESSENGER mission to Mercury. The 30 master teachers chosen for the program will receive special training to help them conduct teacher training workshops featuring lessons for grades pre-K to12 developed in support of the mission.

"Our Educator Fellowship Program greatly expands the reach of the MESSENGER Education and Public Outreach Team," says MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon. "Many of our Fellows have participated in major mission events, such as the Mercury flybys, and all have become enthusiastic and well-informed ambassadors for our mission and for the nation's space program more generally."

The MESSENGER Educator Fellowship Program, managed by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, is designed to provide teachers and school districts with exceptional educational materials and professional development strongly tied to the space science curriculum, as well as to inspire the next generation of America's scientists and engineers through NASA missions. Since the program's inception in 2003, more than 14,000 educators across the nation have been trained by the Fellows.

The Fellows selected for the program will receive a five-day training workshop in Washington, D.C., business cards that identify them as a MESSENGER Educator Fellow, copies of lessons, a how-to manual on conducting effective teacher training workshops, online resources to promote the workshops, and other NASA resources. In return, Fellows commit to conducting teacher training workshops that reach a minimum of 100 teachers per year for two years.

Practicing teachers and teacher trainers in both formal and informal education settings are encouraged to apply.

The deadline for applications is April 10, 2010. Additional information is available online at http://messenger-education.org/teachers/ao.php .


MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury and the first space mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft launched on August 3, 2004, and after flybys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury will start a yearlong study of its target planet in March 2011. Dr. Sean C. Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, leads the mission as Principal Investigator. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory built and operates the MESSENGER spacecraft and manages this Discovery-class mission for NASA.

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Last Updated: 18 Mar 2010