We Need to Rename Mars' Moons Quickly

Phobos and Deimos are way too dark, writes essayist
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2015 11:23 AM CST
The Martian moon Phobos as seen by the Curiosity rover.   (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

(Newser) – Each new discovery about Mars seems to show that it's more like Earth than we imagined. NASA, meanwhile, is firming up plans for a trip there. It's high time, then, for a long overdue chore, writes Fortunato Salazar in the Guardian—we've got to rename the planet's two moons. We earthlings currently call them Phobos and Deimos, thanks to an astronomer who named them after deities that embody "panic/fear" and "terror/dread," respectively. Anyone familiar with epic poetry also knows them from Homer's Iliad, where they crop up again and again in association with barbaric violence.

"If nothing else, we should be thinking of the children who will someday grow up to be Mars colonists," writes Salazar. "No one currently bats an eye when an adult leads a child out into the backyard to admire a planet orbited by panic and terror." Unfortunately, the branch of the International Astronomical Union that decides such things isn't exactly "a paragon of enlightenment," writes Salazar, so he's not optimistic. "We are basically implying, by doing nothing, that panic and terror are perfectly acceptable as appellations for our next-door neighbors in the sky." Click for his full column. (Read more Mars stories.)

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