NASA has announced that it has given an official name to the Perseverance Rover landing site on Mars. The landing site is officially called “Octavia E. Butler Landing.” Octavia E. Butler is a late American science fiction author. To celebrate the landing site’s official naming, NASA has shared an image from the High Resolution Imaging Experiment HiRISE camera aboard the orbiting Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
HiRISE, the camera that snapped the image, is managed by the University of Arizona in Tucson. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is managed by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California. Butler was born in Pasadena, California, and passed away on February 24th, 2006. Butler is an American science fiction author and is a multi-time recipient of the Hugo and Nebula awards.
As of 2021, she is the only science-fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. Perseverance is just beginning its mission on the Red Planet’s surface, and the primary mission is astrobiology. Among the goals for the spacecraft is to search for signs of ancient microbial life. Perseverance will also work to characterize the planet’s geology and past climate.
Perseverance is in part helping to pave the way for future human exploration of Mars and will be the first mission to collect and store Martian rock and regolith for future retrieval. Future NASA missions will retrieve the specimens in cooperation with the ESA. Spacecraft will be sent to Mars to collect the sealed samples from the planet’s surface and return them to Earth for analysis.
NASA wants to get actual samples from Mars in the hands of scientists worldwide for in-depth study with instruments that can’t be sent to the surface of the planet. NASA would also store some of the samples for future scientists to investigate using tools and methods not available today.