What’s with all the names?

As we wrap up things in the MOC in Harwell, you may have noticed the variety of names that have appeared in our blog posts for various rocks and features that we’ve taken pictures of.

In real space missions, naming things is a bit of a necessity.

When talking amongst the team what the rover should next take a picture of, or deciding where the rover should drive towards, simple communication is paramount.

As such, it’s easier to refer to a rock as, for example, “Thursday”, than “that rock over there! No, the other one!”

Over the course of the MURFI mission, we’ve named maybe 30-40 different things on the ground.

Decide how to name the various rocks presents an interesting question.

For NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto, many of the features on the surface were named after characters from different science fiction and fantasy films, such as Skywalker Crater and Balrog Macula.

For the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, a series of seven hills was named the Columbia Hills, in memory of the Columbia Space Shuttle , with each hill being named after an individual astronaut.

As MURFI is a UK mission, we decided to name things after towns in the UK with a population of less than 10,000 people. Names were chosen from a random name generator.

A few of our favourites are listed below.

Wimblington is a small mound of rock just to the north of Big Mesa, and also a village just to the north of Cambridge in England.

Dollar, a town in central Scotland, was the name of a patch of bushes that we used as a way point for the rover.

Podington, a village in Bedfordshire, is ultimately where we decided to drill down into and look for traces of ancient life.

A rover-eye HRC view of some of the named targets. Credit: MURFI team

Joel Davis, Instrument Scientist



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