As part of a mapping project, space-funding company Uwingu is offering the public a chance to name any one of Mars' 500,000 or so unnamed craters by paying $5.
Have you ever wanted to name a star or any celestial body, for that matter? Now's your chance! For as little as $5, you can name any one of Mars' 500,000 or so unnamed craters. The opportunity is being offered by a space-funding company called Uwingu for its new mapping project.
"This is the first people's map of Mars, where anybody can play," said Uwingu CEO Alan Stern, a former NASA science chief who also heads the space agency's New Horizons mission to Pluto, according to Fox News. "It's a very social thing."
All you need for this a few dollars and an internet connection. Price of naming a crater increases with the increase of the space rock's size. According to a press statement, the company plans on using the money to fund space science and education efforts such as the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. If all craters are named, an amount as large as $10 million will be collected.
"We're developing this grant fund - the Uwingu fund - for people who've been hit by sequestration," Stern told Space.com. "There's nothing like it right now. They have no place to go; it's either NASA, NSF [the National Science Foundation] or you're out of luck."
About 15,000 craters already have names approved by the International Astronomical Union, and those will be grandfathered onto Uwingu's list, Stern told NBC News. But it's common for other craters to get unofficial names - for example, Eagle Crater, where NASA's Opportunity rover landed 10 years ago.
Stern clarified that the crater-naming project is not a contest, working instead on a first-come, first-served basis. Names will be accepted immediately and will remain approved unless Uwingu officials later determine them to be profane or otherwise offensive.
This is not Uwingu's first foray into celestial-object naming. The company has also raised funds by asking the public to choose monikers for the thousands of exoplanets and exoplanet candidates being discovered around the galaxy. The move created quite a controversy and the new Mars campaign could spark a similar debate.
However, Stern is hopeful that no such thing will happen. He hopes to complete the "People's Map of Mars" campaign by 2015, which marks the 50th anniversary of the Mariner 4 probe's historic Mars flyby.
Click here if you want to name one of the Red Planet's craters.