The NASA Messenger orbiter has been a big success considering the volume of data it has beamed back to Earth. It has beamed back more than 250,000 pictures and has mapped the entire surface of Mercury. The Orbiter has mapped a lot of geological features and hence the need to name them.NASA is asking you To Name Mercury Impact Crater.
NASA’s Mercury Orbiter is circling Mercury since March 2011 and has already outlived its estimated life by 3 years. The orbiter has travelled more than 8 billion miles since its launch in 2004 and it is nearing the fag end of its life when its fuel runs out and it will crash into Mercury’s surface. This is going to happen sometime in March 2015.
NASA’s Messenger which is an acronym for ‘MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging’ has many aces to its name and has enriched our knowledge about the planet. The orbiter is still sending valuable tit bits of information and the latest being the meteor showers which periodically hit the planet. Messenger Orbiter found that regular meteor showers occurred within planet Mercury’s exosphere. It found this out by analyzing a very thin halo of gases surrounding the planet.
Meteor showers happen when a planets outer atmosphere comes into contact with any asteroid’s debris or a Comet’s tail. Comet’s tail is made up of debris like dust, pieces of ice, rock, which are pushed away from the sun by solar radiation. Earth also has its share of meteor showers during different parts of the year.
Rosemary Killen is one of the authors and the scientist at the NASA’s flight Center in Maryland and said that the discovery of a meteor shower on the Planet mercury was both important and also path breaking since the dust and the particles in the planet’s outer atmosphere has been relatively unexplored.
You can also send your ideas for crater names from now till January 15th. There are of course some rules which one will have to follow. The Impact Craters on the Mercury will have to be named in honor of persons who have contributed to the arts. However the artists must have been recognized as an “art-historically significant figure” for more than 50 years, and dead for at least three years. No duplicates will be allowed so do check for the existing names of the craters.