Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How to Name a Martian Crater

At least twice a year someone contacts me with the brilliant idea of selling off virtual property on Google Maps. The idea usually involves a simple map that users can click on to buy towns, neighborhoods, streets or buildings. I refuse to run these maps on Google Maps Mania as users get nothing in return for stumping up their hard earned cash.

Well now someone has come up with the idea of selling property on Mars. Only this time it is for a good cause! Uwingu is a non-profit founded by astronomers, planetary scientists, space educators, and former NASA personnel with the mission to create new ways to inspire space exploration and astronomy. They do this by providing grants for space exploration, space research, and space education.

To help raise funds for these grants Uwingu has come up with the genius idea of selling the naming rights for craters on Mars. They have created a map of Mars, including the 500,000 largest, still unnamed craters. The Mars Surface Viewer allows anyone to click on a Mars Crater and buy the naming rights. The crater's are priced in proportion to size. A small crater costs just $5 but, if you are feeling generous, you can contribute more and grab yourself a giant Mars crater instead.

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