The US space agency has always been in the habit of “renaming” the landing sites of the landers or rovers that arrive on the various celestial bodies and that of Perseverance is no exception, giving prestige to a great science fiction writer, of African American origins.
The person selected for the Perseverance landing site on Mars is writer Octavia E. Butler, born in 1947 in the USA and died in 2006, who in her lifetime managed to establish herself as one of the greatest science fiction authors of recent years.
It is no coincidence that she was the only science fiction author – until 2003 – to have won, thanks to her short stories and stories, the prestigious MacArthur Award, one of the most coveted and selective for American citizens. Other than that it also got the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award in 1995. Often described as a woman of great talent but at the same time difficult, prone to pessimism, feminism and “a hermit”, Octavia has been able to earn the acclaim of world critics not with great sagas or extended novels, but with short stories and effect .
For this reason, JPL engineers chose it to rename the site where Perseverance, one of the most advanced rovers ever built, arrived: “Naming Octavia honors prominent science fiction writers, a subject very dear to the Mars Science Laboratory team“, he reported Stack Morgan during the NASA / JPL press conference. “Science fiction tales have inspired many of us to become the engineers, scientists and explorers we are today, making science fiction a reality for the next generation.“.
The little curiosity with which we leave you is that this practice – followed for decades now by NASA – is actually something unofficial: although the words also appear in scientific treatises or technical exhibitions, the renaming of the landing sites is not recognized by the International Astronomical Union, the only official body that has the ability to rename stars, planets and any part of a celestial body.
In the meantime, we remind you that the Perseverance rover is about to set out on its long journey, but first it will be necessary to face “a crossroads”.