NASA Names Perseverance Rover Touchdown Site “Octavia E. Butler Landing”

NASA has named the Perseverance rover’s landing place on Mars the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Landing Site, just as they had earlier named the Curiosity site for Ray Bradbury (Bradbury Landing). The location is marked with a star in the above image from the High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

It’s a great choice, both for Butler’s inspiring work as a science fiction writer, and that she did much of her writing while living in Pasadena only a few miles away from Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Read more about Perseverance here.

Butler signing in 2005. Photo by Nikolas Coukouma.

[Based on a press release. Thanks to David Shallcross for the story.]

10 thoughts on “NASA Names Perseverance Rover Touchdown Site “Octavia E. Butler Landing”

  1. Good choice for naming a location after, but isn’t it the wrong planet? I have always understood that all locations on Mars have male names and all locations on Venus have female names.

  2. @Stuart Hall–

    Good choice for naming a location after, but isn’t it the wrong planet? I have always understood that all locations on Mars have male names and all locations on Venus have female names.

    We’re not landing anything on Venus, now or in the foreseeable future, and therefore have no occasion to be naming new locations there.

    Of course, it’s possible that is your intention, lip service to naming something after Octavia Butler, but in a way that would ensure it would be unlikely ever to happen.

  3. @Lis Carey
    We may not be landing anything on Venus right now (though I believe missions are in development) but there are plenty of features on the planet that yet to be named. You don’t need to land there to name a feature. I think that it is wrong that more names have not already been assigned.

  4. @Stuart Hall–You want to say that women’s names can only be assigned to locations on a planet few people are paying much attention to, because most people find it far less interesting than Mars.

    And there is no logical reason for such a rule, leading me to question your motives for it.

  5. @Stuart Hall
    It’s a lot harder to name things on Venus, because we really don’t know much about what’s under those clouds. It makes Mars look like a fine vacation spot.

  6. I took the comment about men’s names on Mars, women’s names on Venus, to be satire, and laughed. Guess people don’t do much of that any more.

    The picture of Octavia is wonderful, both as portraiture and as pure art. The composition is wonderful, the focus is moving and therefore maintains interest beyond the subject matter, and the color is splendid, as if one of the old masters had made the picture to honor her. We all like pictures of our role models around, often on our walls, but that particular picture of Octavia is such that it goes beyond the personal: it would be beautiful on anybody’s wall. It might even inspire strangers to ask who she is (and writers are always is, never were) and start reading her wonderful stories. I wonder if Nikolaus Coukouma has prints of it available.

  7. Jon DeCles: I took the comment about men’s names on Mars, women’s names on Venus, to be satire, and laughed. Guess people don’t do much of that any more.

    You know why people don’t laugh at stuff like that as much any more? Because women who’ve spent their lives having to put up with those sorts of sexist “jokes” and “satire” finally feel safe enough to say “Stop. It’s not funny, and it’s never been funny.”

    Oh look, here, you women don’t need your names to be immortalized on a planet where everyone can see pictures of the features which are named after you. You can have your names on places over on that planet where no one can actually see them! HARHARHAR, isn’t that hilarious? 🙄

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