Yes, I did it. Today, on April Fools’ Day, I purchased the naming rights of a Martian crater – but, it’s no joke!

Tethalia Crater Certificate (with personal details obscured)

 

Uwingu is a worldwide collaboration of scientists, teachers, and other specialists with a “private-sector” goal to fund Space research, education, and even exploration. Already, they have funded projects for Astronomers Without Borders, SEDS, SETI’s Allen Telescope Array, and more, but their support is not limited to formal organizations. Individual astronomers, teachers, and classrooms – in fact, anyone conducting Space-related research and education – are all eligible for Uwingu funding. And one of the most exciting aspects of this endeavor is the fact that it was “jump-started” by people like you and me – individuals and corporations who are passionate about Space. Governments be damned – we’re marching forward, towards the better tomorrow that follows from today’s exploration!

Uwingu has several fund-raising ventures for your participation, including the Mars Crater-naming project, an Exoplanet-naming project, and a Cafe Press store. They also offer free educational materials, for you, your classroom, or your outreach event. There are many ways to contribute, with participation costs ranging from $.99 to cast an exoplanet-naming vote to $5000 to name an Apollo-level Martian crater. If you prefer something you can hold in your hand, you can purchase Uwingu-branded items ranging from less than $2 for a mini magnet to $36 for a sweatshirt. I opted to name a 4-mile-wide, Pathfinder-level, Martian crater. I used a combination of letters from my and children’s names, so that no matter where life takes us, we’ll always be together. I even suggested a little flora and fauna by selecting geological coordinates to coincide with one of our own planet’s tropical paradises. I contributed to education and research, I created an exciting piece of memorabilia for my children, and I had great fun doing it. No fooling!