Two Mars craters photographed by NASA’s Opportunity rover have received new names to honor the Apollo 12 spaceships that 41 years ago carried humans on the second flight to land on the Moon.
The two craters, which Opportunity visited in early November, are called “Yankee Clipper” and “Intrepid” — the same names given to the Apollo 12 mission’s command module and lunar lander during the November 1969 mission to the Moon. NASA announced the crater names Nov. 18.
Opportunity, which has been roving the red planet’s surface since 2004, drove past Yankee Clipper Nov. 4 and arrived at the Intrepid crater Nov. 9. The Yankee Clipper crater is about 10 meters wide while Intrepid is about twice that size.
NASA said the idea to name the craters after the Apollo 12 spacecraft came from rover science team member James Rice of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
“The Apollo missions were so inspiring when I was young, I remember all the dates. When we were approaching these craters, I realized we were getting close to the Nov. 19 anniversary of Apollo 12,” Rice said in a statement. He sent the photographs Opportunity took to astronauts Alan Bean and Dick Gordon, the two surviving members of Apollo 12 crew. The mission’s commander, Pete Conrad, died in July 1999 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.