Showing posts with label NASA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NASA. Show all posts

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Science Makes Room for Enwonwu, Other Artists, in Outer Space

Science makes room for Enwonwu, other artists, in outer space

Ben Enwonwu (1921-1994)

‘Life is short; Art is long’. Science, it seems, has set itself the task of bearing empirical witness to the truth of the saying of the Romans of long ago. A new list of world artists after whom craters on Mercury are to be known has been released by the International Astronomical Union. The IAU has handled planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919. The craters are named after famous deceased artists, musicians, or authors.

A crater is a natural depression that results from the high velocity impact of a projectile as it collides with a larger body. The term is widely used for the approximately circular depression in the surface of a planet, moon or other solid body in the Solar System. Impact craters provide the dominant landforms here.
Among those accorded the celestial honour is “sculptor and painter Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu [1921-1994], the most renowned Nigerian artist of the 20th century,” according to a statement released by Messenger Science Team, the unit of IAU responsible for making recommendations.

Top are the newly designated Mercury craters. Enwonwu is left, middle

(Photo by NASA)

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) ratified the proposal from the MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) Science Team to name 15 craters on Mercury. All of the newly named craters were imaged during the mission's first flyby of the solar system's most tucked-in planet back in January 2008.

"We're pleased that the IAU has again acted promptly to approve this new set of names for prominent craters on Mercury," says MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "These latest names honour a diverse suite of some of the most accomplished contributors to mankind's higher aspirations. They also make it much easier for planetary scientists to refer to major features on Mercury in talks and publications."

The newly named craters (in alphabetical order) are: Amaral, after Tarsila do Amaral (1886-1973) of Brazil, considered one of the leading Latin American modernist artists; Beckett, after Clarice Beckett (1887-1935), recognized as one of Australia's most important modernist artists; Dali, after Salvador Dali (1904-1989), a Spanish painter and leader of the Surrealist Movement; Enwonwu; Glinka, after Mikhail Glinka (1804-1857), a Russian composer considered to be the "father" of genuinely Russian music; Hovnatanian, after Hakop Hovnatanian (1806-1881), an Armenian painter known for his portraits; Moody, after Ronald Moody(1900-1984), a self-taught, Jamaica-born sculptor and painter who found success in mid-20th-century London and Paris; Munch, after Edvard Munch (1863-1944), a Norwegian Symbolist painter, printmaker, and draftsman, perhaps most well-known for his painting “The Scream”; Navoi, after Alisher Navoi (1441-1501), a 15th century Uzbek poet, considered by many to be the founder of early Turkic literature; Nawahi, after Joseph Nawahi (1842-1896), a self-taught artist, lawyer, educator, publisher, member of the Hawaiian legislature for many years, and principal adviser to famous Hawaiian Queen Lili'uokalani; Oskison, after John Milton Oskison (1874-1947), a Cherokee author who served as editor and editorial writer for the New York Evening Post; Poe, after Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), American poet, critic, editor, and author, best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre; Qi Baishi, after Qi Baishi (1864-1957), a renowned Chinese painter known for his whimsical water colours; Raden Saleh, after Raden Saleh (1807-1880), a 19th century Javanese naturalist painter considered to be the first modern artist from what is now Indonesia, and Sher-Gil, after Amrita Sher-Gil (1913-1941), an eminent Indian painter, today considered an important female painter of 20th-century India.

"It was quite enjoyable to consider candidate names from among the world's most accomplished people in the arts and humanities," says MESSENGER Participating Scientist Dave Blewett, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, in Laurel, Madison, USA. "Having names for many of the prominent craters will help us to remember and discuss specific locations in this previously 'undiscovered country,'" Blewett adds. The addition of these craters, along with the 12 features named in April, brings the total to 27 newly named surface features for Mercury in 2008.

MESSENGER is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury and the first space mission designed to orbit the planet that snuggles closet to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft launched on August 3, 2004, after flybys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury, will start a yearlong study of its target planet in March 2011.