Thursday, June 10, 2010

Crater on Mars named for Isaac Asimov (May 28, 2009)

In May 2009, the name of a crater on Mars was changed to honor Isaac Asimov:

From SFScope: Crater on Mars named for Isaac Asimov
By Ian Randal Strock May 28, 2009

Steven H Silver alerts us to the fact that, earlier this month, the International Astronomical Union approved the naming of a crater on Mars for Isaac Asimov.

This NASA side-by-side image shows: "Asimov Crater is located in Noachis Terra at 47.0°S, 355.1°W; Danielson is in western Arabia Terra at 8.0°N, 7.0°W. Both craters were named by the IAU this year. Note that Asimov is largely filled with material; large pits mark the interface between the ancient crater walls and the material that filled the crater. Although not obvious at the scale of the images presented here, the darkest materials in Danielson Crater are windblown sand dunes. The Asimov picture is from Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) red wide angle camera image M01-01232; the Danielson picture is also from the MOC red wide angle camera, image M01-00847. These pictures were taken during the MOC Geodesy Campaign ten years ago in May 1999. The images were map-projected by personnel at Malin Space Science Systems."

Ken Edgett, guest-blogging on The Planetary Society's blog, writes about the craters. "Let's start with Asimov, named for the author of the 1952 short story, 'The Martian Way', among others. Until it was given a name a few weeks ago, my colleague… and I referred to it as the 'Noachis Pit Crater'. We talked about it all the time, at least once a month, for the past decade—because it fascinates us. Asimov Crater has been almost completely filled with stuff—layers of who-knows-what—rocks, sand, and dust. Deep pits have developed at the interface between the buried crater wall and the material that filled Asimov. How this happened, I do no not know. It is one of the myriad and profound mysteries of Mars, as are all of the large craters that have been filled and buried, all over the planet. What I do know is that these pit walls show some spectacular things. Two of my favorite features on the entire planet are found in and on the walls of these deep pits." He goes into great detail on the scientific coolness of the two craters.

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