Two Mars Craters Named

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Kakori and Sandila, two small towns in Northern India, are where my mother and father were born. What I neglected to mention in my biography “My Life: From Riches to Rags and (almost) back” is that two relatively large size craters(about 25km diameter) on Mars have the names Kakori and Sandila. This happened back in the mid-1970s. One day I got a call from the late Hal Masursky who was at Kennedy Airport on his way to Moscow for a meeting of nomenclature  group which was to recommend names for craters on Mars. He wanted from me the names of two or three small towns in India which were exotic enough but not very well known. I instantly said Kakori and Sandila. The names were accepted and are today listed in Wikipedia with their martian coordinates. I hope that Curiosity Rover will one day visit these craters and send us some pictures. 


Mariner 5

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Mariner 5 was originally built to be the backup for Mariner 4 to Mars, but was never needed for that purpose. Thus, it was refurbished and modified to go to Venus instead. It flew by Venus at a distance of 3,990 kilometers (2,480 miles), and with its more sensitive instruments than aboard Mariner 2, revealed new information about Venus’ atmosphere, including its composition of 85-99% carbon dioxide. Mariner 5 also studied the interplanetary space in the vicinity of Venus and furthered the art and science of building and operating interplanetary spacecraft.

Radio occultation data from Mariner 5 helped to understand the temperature and pressure data returned by the Venera 4 lander, which arrived at Venus shortly before it. After these missions, it was clear that Venus had a very hot surface and an atmosphere even denser than expected.