08/24/2012 11:30 am ET

Bradbury Landing: Astronomical Objects Named After Writers

NASA announced yesterday that the landing ground for the Curiosity explorer had been named Bradbury Landing, in honor of the late author Ray Bradbury.

"This was not a difficult choice for the science team," said Michael Meyer, NASA program scientist for Curiosity. "Many of us and millions of other readers were inspired in our lives by stories Ray Bradbury wrote to dream of the possibility of life on Mars."

It's far from the first literary name given to an astronomical location.

Earlier this month, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) named a crater on Mercury "Tolkein" to go alongside previously named Mercurian craters Faulkner, Seuss and Nabokov. And Bradbury Landing has good company on Mars, where the Burroughs crater already exists.

In 2002, NASA named an unmanned spacecraft Jules Verne, while Sweden's first microsatellite was named "Astrid" after the creator of Pippi Longstocking.

However, when it comes to the minor planets, entire bookshelves are well represented. The Committee on Small Body Nomenclature at the IAU has approved names including Lewiscarroll, Joyce, Janeausten, Kafka, Jack London and Douglasadams, whose creations were also celebrated with the naming of the asteroid Arthurdent.



Best Fall 2012 Books