On March 18, 2011, Messenger became the first spacecraft to enter Mercury orbit. Now, almost four years later, eight billion miles and more than 260,000 images, Messenger is nearing the end of its life.
Its fuel reserves are almost exhausted, the spacecraft will only be able to maintain its orbit until the end of January, after which its height will steadily decrease until it collides with the planet in March. But do not be discouraged ... Messenger exceeded the goals of his mission, successfully displaying the entire surface of Mercury and collecting the most complete data ever received about the inner planet of the Solar System.
Disney Crater on Mercury
To commemorate this achievement, scientists from NASA and the Messenger team from University John Hops and Carnegie Institute give people around the world the opportunity to name the five craters on Mercury. The names to be chosen will become official after approval by the International Astronomical Union! Messenger surpassed its original mission by three years. This brave little ship, which is not much more than the Volkswagen Beetle, has flown more than 8 billion miles since 2004, reached the planet, and then went into orbit. We would like to draw the attention of the international community to the achievements of spacecraft and scientists on Earth.
Five, while unnamed craters are scattered across almost the entire surface of Mercury, ranging in size from 24 km (14 miles) to 105 km (65 miles) in diameter. Each crater has some kind of geological significance.
The rules of the competition are simple: the proposed names must comply with the accepted policy of the IAC to designate craters on Mercury and be named after deceased artists, musicians, writers and prominent scientists in their field.