The Perseverance rover‘s Crimson Planet landing website has been renamed for Octavia E. Butler, the famous African American science fiction writer.
NASA introduced they’d informally redesignate the Mars rover’s touchdown website inside Jezero Crater on Friday (March 5), throughout the identical press convention the place the company revealed Perseverance made its first drive on Mars.
Butler was the primary African American lady to win each the Hugo and Nebula awards that honor nice science fiction, and the primary science fiction author total who acquired a MacArthur Fellowship. Her notable work consists of the tales “Kindred,” “Bloodchild,” “Speech Sounds,” “Parable of the Sower,” “Parable of the Talents,” and the “Patternist” collection. She died in 2006.
“Butler’s pioneering work explores themes of race, gender equality in humanity, centering on the experiences of Black girls at a time when such voices had been largely absent from science fiction,” Katie Stack Morgan, Perseverance deputy challenge scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, mentioned in the course of the Friday press convention, which is available on YouTube.
“Butler’s protagonists embodied willpower and inventiveness, making her an ideal match for the Perseverance rover mission and its theme of overcoming challenges,” Stack Morgan continued. “Butler impressed and influenced the planetary science neighborhood and lots of past — together with these usually underrepresented in STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] fields. The truth that her works are as related right this moment — if no more so — than after they had been initially written and revealed is a testomony to her imaginative and prescient, genius and timelessness.”
NASA has a long-standing observe of informally naming landmarks on Mars and different worlds; these names will not be acknowledged by the International Astronomical Union that formally designates photo voltaic system areas, however the names do present up in scientific papers, NASA said in a statement.
Earlier Mars missions additionally included homages to outstanding members of the science neighborhood or communicators of science, courting all the best way again to the 1970s. The Mars Science Laboratory mission touchdown website for the Curiosity rover, in Gale Crater, was informally named for science fiction author Ray Bradbury in 2012, shortly after the writer’s demise.
“Naming Perseverance’s touchdown website in honor of Octavia E. Butler honors notable science fiction writers, a theme additionally utilized by the Mars Science Laboratory staff,” Stack Morgan added in the course of the press convention. “We selected on this mission to proceed this theme in appreciation of the position that science fiction writers have performed in inspiring so many people to turn into the engineers, scientists and explorers who flip science fiction into actuality for the following era.”
The spot the place @NASAPersevere started its journey on Mars now bears the identify “Octavia E. Butler Touchdown.” Groundbreaking writer @OctaviaEButler is an ideal match for this mission, as her major characters embody overcoming challenges.📸: Ching-Ming Cheung pic.twitter.com/itgooPxpCNMarch 5, 2021
In 2004, the Mars rovers Spirit and Alternative had their touchdown website areas dubbed the “Columbia Memorial Station” and “Challenger Memorial Station,” respectively, after the 2 fallen house shuttle crews of 2003 and 1986.
Earlier to that, the Mars Pathfinder lander was renamed the “Carl Sagan Memorial Station” after landing with the Sojourner rover in 1997; Sagan, who died shortly earlier than the touchdown, was a planetary scientist at Cornell College who performed a job in a number of NASA missions, together with the Voyager 1 and 2 golden records.
NASA’s first Mars lander, Viking 1, was renamed “Thomas A. Mutch Memorial Station” in honor of Thomas Mutch, the chief of the Viking imaging staff, after his demise in 1980 — two years earlier than the lander’s mission ended. In the identical period, Viking 2 acquired the brand new identify of “Gerald Soffen Memorial Station” after Gerald Soffen, the chief scientist of the Viking missions.
The company, in actual fact, prolonged this casual Mars naming observe to Saturn’s moon Titan in 2007. NASA and the European Area Company collectively agreed to call the Huygens landing website after Hubert Curien, whose work as chair of the ESA Council within the 1980s included establishing a science program, “Horizon 2000”, that included the Huygens mission.
Observe Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.