The first 12 surface features of the asteroid Bennu to receive official names from the International Astronomical Union have an air of mythology.
The accepted names were proposed by members of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx team, who have been mapping the asteroid in detail for the past year.
The 12 names
Bennu’s various terrain types, including regions (broad geographic regions), craters, dorsa (ridges), trenches (furrows or trenches), and saxa (rocks and boulders) have thus been given highly euphonious names, such as:
- Tlanuwa Regio is an area covered by large rocks in the southern hemisphere of Bennu.
- Benben Saxum is the tallest rock in Bennu. And a piece of rock that protrudes almost 22 meters from the southern hemisphere of the asteroid.
- Roc Saxum is the largest rock feature in Bennu.
- Simurgh Saxum defines the prime meridian at Bennu and is the base of the asteroid’s coordinate system.
- Huginn Saxum and ** Muninn Saxum ** are adjacent rocks named after the two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, who accompany the god Odin in Norse mythology.
- Ocypete Saxum is named after one of the Greek harpies, the half-virgin, half-bird personification of storm winds.
- Strix Saxum is a large rock flanking the OSIRIS-REx mission backup sample collection site.
- Amihan Saxum is a large flat rock that appears to be partially buried and is found in Tlanuwa Regio, which has an unusually high concentration of large rocks.
- Pouakai Saxum is a 55 ft (10.6 m) wide rock located in the southern hemisphere of Bennu, slightly north of Benben Saxum.
- Aetos Saxum is a remarkably flat rock, with a general wing shape located near the equator of Bennu.
- Gargoyle Saxum is a large prominent rock near the mission back-up sample site that is one of the darkest objects on the surface.