Uwingu is a private company set up by a group of leading astronomers, planetary scientists, former space program managers, writers and educators (all of whom currently work at Uwingu as volunteers) to raise money for space research. They aim to provide innovative public involvement products that bring a sense of participation and fun to space activities.
Following last year’s successful test with the naming of exoplanets, today Uwingu announces the Mars Crater Naming campaign in which you can offer a name for one of the 500,000 craters found so far on the Red Planet, most all of which have no names. Uwingu has created a dynamic, on line map that will continually update with the latest names. The goal is to raise $10M for space science projects from the fees for posting a name.
See Uwingu’s Mars Crater Naming FAQ regarding the usual questions about the “official” status of such names. No group can claim that only one name and only their selected name can apply to each and every feature in the solar system. Everyone has a right to suggest a name for a feature on Mars and future Mars residents can decide for themselves whether they will use that name or the name they choose themselves or a technical name assigned to it by a particular subset of astronomers.
Here is the official announcement from Uwingu:
Feb. 26, 2014 – BOULDER, Colo. — For years, space mission rover teams have taken it upon themselves to name landmarks on Mars.
Beginning today, the public can get involved in Mars exploration much the same way. Through Uwingu’s newly redesigned web site at www.uwingu.com, now anyone can help to create the Uwingu’s new Mars map, with names for all the approximately 500,000 unnamed, scientifically catalogued craters on Mars.
In almost 50 years of Mars exploration by spacecraft, only about 15,000 features have been named on Mars by scientists and others around the world. Yet over 500,000 Martian craters catalogued from NASA and European space mission imagery remain unnamed. Uwingu is setting a goal of naming all these unnamed Martian craters and completing its new Mars map before 2015—the 50th anniversary year of humankind’s first missions to Mars.
The completed project aims to generate over $10M in funds for space research and education—larger than any other private space grant program in history.
Uwingu’s Mars map grandfathers in all the already named craters on Mars, but opens the remainder up for naming by people around the globe. Unnamed craters in the Mars database range from under a kilometer across to over 350 kilometers (over 200 miles) across. Craters can be named for almost anything or anyone, including friends, family, co-workers, heroes, pets, places on Earth or in space, sports teams, musical artists.
Says Uwingu’s advisor and Mars scientist Dr. Teresa Segura, “This project is truly groundbreaking for public participation in the exploration of Mars. Only imagination limits your choices, Aad I love that it supports funding for space research and education!”
Prices for naming craters vary, depending on the size of the crater, and begin at $5 dollars.
Uwingu makes a shareable Web link and a naming certificate available to each crater namer for each newly named crater.
“Every crater named on this public Mars map contributes to the Uwingu fund for space research and education”, added Uwingu founder and planetary scientist Dr. Alan Stern, “So name a crater on Mars—and make an impact of your own!”
Uwingu (which means “sky” in Swahili, and is pronounced “oo-wing-oo”)