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Mercury Impact Craters Named

Large impact crater in MESSENGER image named Crater Lennon. Credit: ASU/USGS/NASA

Hellish Mercury may not be as tranquil as “Strawberry Fields Forever” but that song’s creator, the late Beatle, John Lennon, and the Sun-baked world are now tied together.

Crater Lennon is one of ten impact craters on the planet Mercury that have been assigned names thanks to the science team operating NASA’s MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft.

That orbiter has been busy inspecting the planet Mercury since mid-2011 and is now in a second extended mission, which is scheduled to conclude in March 2015.

All of the newly designated features are named after deceased artists, musicians, painters, and authors who have made outstanding or fundamental contributions to their field and have been recognized as art historically significant figures for more than 50 years.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature and recently approved the names.

Crater names

The newly named craters are:

Lennon, for John Winston Ono Lennon (1940-1980), an English songwriter, musician, and singer who rose to worldwide fame as a founding member of the Beatles, the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed band in the history of popular music.

Barney, for Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972), an American-French playwright, poet, and novelist.

Berlioz, for Hector Berlioz (1803-1869), a French Romantic composer best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts.

Calder, for Alexander Calder (1898-1976), an American sculptor best known as the originator of the mobile, a type of kinetic sculpture made with delicately balanced or suspended components that move in response to motor power or air currents.

Capote, for Truman Capote (1924-1984), an American author whose short stories, novels, plays, and nonfiction include the novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the true-crime novel In Cold Blood.

Caruso, for Enrico Caruso (1873-1921), an Italian tenor who sang to great acclaim at the major opera houses of Europe and the Americas and appeared in a wide variety of roles from the Italian and French repertoires that ranged from the lyric to the dramatic.

Ensor, for James Sidney Ensor (1860-1949), a Belgian painter and printmaker, considered an important influence on expressionism and surrealism.

Giambologna, for Jean Boulogne Giambologna (1529-1608), a Dutch sculptor known for his marble and bronze statuary in a late Renaissance or Mannerist style.

Remarque, for Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970), a German author best known for his novel All Quiet on the Western Front, which depicted the horrors of war from the viewpoint of young German soldiers.

Vieira da Silva, for Maria Elena Vieira da Silva (1908-1992), a Portuguese-born French painter of intricate, semiabstract compositions.

Imagine this

“The MESSENGER team is delighted that the IAU has named an additional 10 impact craters on Mercury,” said MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon of Columbia University.

“We are particularly pleased that eight of the 10 individuals honored made all or many of their artistic contributions in the Twentieth Century, the same century in which the MESSENGER mission was conceived, proposed, and approved for flight. Imagine,” Solomon said in a MESSENGER statement.

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory built and operates the MESSENGER spacecraft and manages this Discovery-class mission for NASA.

To take a look at each of the newly named Mercury impact craters, go to:

http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/

By Leonard David

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