Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Poll: Will Women's history land in a Martian crater in the near future?

Now that the impact of the naming of Asimov Crater on Mars by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has been recorded, I’m conducting a poll to determine which future landmark event in Women’s history you think will happen last. Here are four monumental events I'm thinking about:

• The United States will elect a woman president

• A woman will walk on the surface of Mars

• A woman will be named CEO of Merrill Lynch

• The IAU will name a crater on Mars in honor of a woman science fiction writer

According to the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature, large craters (approximately 60 km and larger) on Mars are named for “deceased scientists who have contributed to the study of Mars; writers and others who have contributed to the lore of Mars,” while planetary features on Deimos, a moon of Mars, are named for “authors who wrote about martian satellites [Phobos and Deimos].”

If I understand the list of Martian craters published in the gazeteer, we now have seven craters named in honor of male SF writers: Burroughs Crater (1973), Weinbaum Crater (1973), Wells Crater (1973), Lasswitz Crater (1976), Alexey Tolstoy Crater (1982), Heinlein Crater (1994), and Asimov Crater (2009). And zero craters named in honor of female SF writers!

If the IAU is considering diversifying this astronomical anomaly in the near future, here is my shortlist of important women SF writers who have made a significant contribution to the lore of Mars:

Leigh Brackett (1915-1978)

Catherine L. Moore (1911-1987)

Judith Merril (1923-1997)

The poll, which closes on July 10, 2009, is located near the top right-hand column of this blog, below the cover art of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles.

Pictured above: Leigh Brackett, the Queen of Martian science fiction.


Doc Mars said...

I agree totally with your proposition.
It's a shame to ignore those (SF writers)women.
You have my vote.

K.E. said...

In fact, only 3 craters on Mars are named for women, at all. Emily Lakdawalla wrote about this in the Planetary Soc blog last year:
The trick to getting a name approved is that the crater not only has to be the right size, but someone has to be able to demonstrate that the crater *needs* a name at this time -- for example, if someone is about to publish a scientific paper in which that crater factors prominently in the research. Before too long, they will run out of craters of 60 km or larger to name for people. What they will do then, I don't know.

Paul said...

Thanks, K.E.! How do we figure out how many craters of 60 km or larger remain to be named?

groovista said...

Leigh Brackett!
C.L. Moore!
Judith Merrill!


groovista said...

Now that NASA has identified an extinct shoreline, I suggest the fossil lake be named "Lake Brackett", in honor of her signature imagery of the Low-Canal cities retreating down the vanishing shores.

Paul said...

Great idea Steve!