Disney Name Goes Interplanetary With Impact Crater Identity
December 21, 2012

Mercury Craters Named After Disney And Muddy Waters

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Mercury has gained a little more fame in the eyes of Hollywood, after the International Astronomical Union (IAU) agreed to name nine impact craters after Walt Disney.

The MESSENGER Science Team proposed nine names for impact craters on Mercury, all of which refer to either a blues singer, animation pioneer Walter Elias "Walt" Disney, or other artists.

IAU has been the gatekeeper for planetary and satellite nomenclature since 1919, setting the precedence for naming the objects that lie beyond our current grasp.

All of the newly designated features on Mercury are named after famous deceased artists, musicians, or authors, including McKinley "Muddy Waters" Morganfield, who was an African-American blues musician considered the father of modern "Chicago blues."

The nine newly named craters join 86 other craters named since the MESSENGER spacecraft's first Mercury flyby in January 2008.

Scott Joplin, an African-American composer and pianist who wrote operas and a ballet, also earned his infamy on Mercury via an impact crater.

Other artists named after an impact crater include: Kawanabe Kyosai, a Japanese artist who attained a reputation as a caricaturist; Lyubov Popova, a Russian painter, graphic artist, theatrical designer, applied artist, and illustrator; Katarzyna Kobro, a sculptor who co-founded the Revolutionary Artists; and Edward Hopper, who was an American realist painter and printmaker.

"Kawanabe Kyosai, 19th century Japanese artist and now namesake of Kyosai crater on Mercury, changed the first character of his name from one meaning 'crazy' in Japanese to one meaning 'enlightenment' upon being released from prison," said William Vaughan, a Ph.D. student at Brown University who, as a member of MESSENGER Geology Discipline Group, was involved in selecting the names. "I hope that careful study of Kyosai crater will similarly reward us with enlightenment about Mercury's enigmatic geology."

Artists, movie makers and musicians were not the only members of the deceased art community considered for the names. Latin poet Gaius Valerius Catullus of the Republican period also now has his name etched into the history books as an impact crater.

"The MESSENGER team appreciates the timely approval by IAU of the names for this new list of impact craters," said MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "Because these features are areas of active geological study by our team, the formal names will make it easier to communicate our findings to colleagues in the planetary sciences. More importantly, the naming of these features marks another opportunity to honor those on our planet who have advanced the arts across many eras and cultures."

All of the newly named craters can be explored interactively on a global map of Mercury, with instructions available online.