An Alien Land

Olympus Mons, 3x the height of Mt. Everest

When I say Beer, what do you first think of? If it is a delicious, cold and alcoholic beverage, then you are a normal human being. If you think of Beer and Mädler, the namers of geographic regions on the moon and Mars, then you are a total and complete geekazoid. With that already on the table, allow me to explore the details of the Martian landscape and its unusual naming process.

I’ve always wondered, as kid, where these stars got their names from and if it was a unanimous vote or a first come first serve type of deal. I’ve always suspected scientists to be the sneakier type of person so it seems to me that they went around discovering and naming as many things as they could after themselves / family. That may be (hopefully) the case for far off stars that are a dime a dozen, but what about the features on one of our closest and most mysterious neighbors. The largest of features on Mars still retain the classical mythology names that they were given when they first were focused into telescopes in the mid 19th century, yet the smaller features follow a more unique naming scheme. Craters that are larger than 37 miles will have names of deceased scientists and writers who have been a part of Martian history. Craters smaller than 37 miles are named not after people but cities and towns that have populations less than 100,00 people.

Sites have aslo been renamed to highlight certain aspects of features or just changed out of sheer boredom with the name it’s been given for 150 years. The tallest known mountain in the solar system, Olympus Mons, was once called Nix Olympica after, I’m assuming, they decided that it really needed an updated name. Smaller features like caves and minor impact craters seem to carry the names of scientists’ children and pets, like “Nikki”, “Dina” and “Wendy”, continuing the legacy of selfish and inane naming systems. If given the chance to name a couple features, they would probably be Fred and Gareth.

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One thought on “An Alien Land

  1. Your grampa is an official asteroid named by his friend who worked for JPL and NASA. It is Robert Frazer with some numbers attached I believe. He also took me out to the edge of the arroyo near our home when I was a kid, don’t remember how old i was , but you could figure it out…. anyway he pointed up to the sky and said, “There go the Russians” the race was on as it was” Sputnik. I think I threw rocks at it, but missed.

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