Saturday, December 29, 2007

Asteroids: the Collision of Science and Fiction

With a week of news reports about asteroid 2007 WD5 and its possible collision with Mars next month, yesterday’s segment of NPR’s Science Friday finally inspired us to research whether any asteroids are named for Martian science fiction authors. Using the JPL Small-Body Database Browser, Lutz D. Schmadel’s Dictionary of Minor Planet Names (3rd edition, 1997), and the Google Books Library Project, we made some surprising discoveries:

1021 Flammario (IAU number/Name), discovered in 1924, named in honor of Camille Flammarion, who wrote Urania: a Romance (1891)

2602 Moore, discovered in 1982, named in honor of Sir Patrick Moore, who wrote Mission to Mars (1955), The Domes of Mars (1956), The Voices of Mars (1957), Peril on Mars (1958), and Raiders on Mars (1959)

3341 Hartmann, discovered in 1980, named in honor of William K. Hartmann, who wrote Mars Underground: a Novel (1997) and the nonfiction A Traveler's Guide to Mars (2003)

4923 Clarke, discovered in 1981, named in honor of Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote “Loophole” (1946) and The Sands of Mars (1951)

5020 Asimov, discovered in 1981, named in honor of Isaac Asimov, who wrote “A Martian Way” (1952)

5516 Jawilliamson, discovered in 1989, named in honor of Jack Williamson, the “Dean of Science Fiction,” who wrote Beachhead (1992)

7644 Cslewis, discovered in 1988, named in honor of C. S. Lewis, who wrote Out of the Silent Planet (1938)

7758 Poulanderson, discovered in 1990, named in honor of Poul Anderson, who wrote The War of Two Worlds (1953)

9766 Bradbury, discovered in 1992, named in honor of Ray Bradbury, who wrote The Martian Chronicles (1950)

10177 Ellison, discovered in 1996, named in honor of Harlan Ellison, who wrote “In Lonely Lands” (1959) and “The Toad Prince or, Sex Queen of the Martian Pleasure-Domes” (1999)

12284 Pohl, discovered in 1991, named in honor of Frederik Pohl, who wrote Man Plus (1976), The Day the Martians Came (1988), Mining the Oort (1992), and Mars Plus (1994)

21811 Burroughs, discovered in 1999, named in honor of Edgar Rice Burroughs, who wrote A Princess of Mars (1917) and other Barsoom books.

25399 Vonnegut, discovered in 1999, named in honor of Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote The Sirens of Titan (1959)

46514 Lasswitz, discovered in 1977, named in honor of Kurd Lasswitz, who wrote Two Planets (1897)

Other interesting things we uncovered: asteroid 1886 Lowell is named for Percival Lowell; 1106 Cydonia is named for a tree belonging to the apple family; 1721 Wells is not named for H. G. Wells; and 6371 Heinlein is not named for Robert A. Heinlein.

On a more serious note, Bloomberg reported yesterday that video game pioneer Atari, which released the arcade game Asteroids in 1979, faces possible delisting from the Nasdaq stock exchange because the company's market capitalization has cratered.


Ausir said...

3836 Lem is named after Polish science fiction author Stanisław Lem.

Ausir said...

And 2675 Tolkien is named after J.R.R. Tolkien