Features on Mars important to the missions of NASA’s two active Mars rovers are now called “Murray Ridge” and “Murray Buttes,” in honor of influential planetary scientist Bruce Murray (1931-2013).
The rover Opportunity, which has been roaming Mars for nearly a decade, is currently climbing Murray Ridge, part of an uplifted crater rim. NASA’s newer rover, Curiosity, is headed toward Murray Buttes as the entryway to that mission’s main destination.
“Bruce Murray contributed both scientific insight and leadership that laid the groundwork for interplanetary missions such as robotic missions to Mars, including the Mars rovers, part of America’s inspirational accomplishments. It is fitting that the rover teams have chosen his name for significant landmarks on their expeditions,” said NASA Mars Exploration Program Manager Fuk Li, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Murray, a California Institute of Technology planetary geologist, worked on science teams of NASA’s earliest missions to Mars in the 1960s and ’70s. He was the director of JPL from 1976 to 1982, then returned to teaching and research at Caltech. He co-founded the Planetary Society in 1980 and vigorously promoted public support for planetary exploration missions. He died on Aug. 29, 2013.