Six New Names Approved for Features on MarsSmall craters on Mars are customarily named for towns of less than 100,000 population; large craters are named for deceased scientists participating in the study of Mars or others, such as writers, who have contibuted to Martian lore.
The following names have been approved for features on Mars: Avarua, Dowa, Fitzroy, Greg, Pál, and Waikato Vallis. For more information, see the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature and the map of quadrangle MC-28 [a PDF].
The features in this group are all in the southern hemisphere of Mars, east of the Hellas Planitia basin. Two of these features are named for creators of science fiction.
Producer George Pál on the lunar-surface set of his film Destination Moon, seen in a kinescope of a KTLA TV interview in December 1949.
Pál, a crater of 79 kilometer diameter, is named for George Pál (1908-1980). In a long career as an animator and film producer, he created the Puppetoons stop-motion shorts and a long list of fantasy and science fiction feature films, such as Destination Moon, When Worlds Collide, and The Time Machine. Pál's Mars connection: bringing H. G. Wells's story War of the Worlds to the silver screen in 1953.
(I hadn't previously realized there was accent in Pál's Hungarian name. I'll follow the USGS's orthography, at least for today.)
Percy Greg's small, bearded "Martials" leading unicorn, from his 1880 novel Across the Zodiac.
Painting by Boris Artzybasheff, copyright 1956 by Time, Inc.
The 68-kilometer crater Greg is named for Percy Greg (1836-1889), English author of Across the Zodiac, an 1880 novel about a trip to Mars. The protagonist builds an antigravity vehicle powered by "apergy," flies to Mars, and becomes embroiled in a conflict within the planet's utopian civilization. Brian Aldiss has speculated that this novel may be the first to feature a journey to another planet in a spaceship. An obituary for Greg may be found here.
The remaining features are crater Dowa, named for a town in Malawi; crater Fitzroy, named for a town in the Falkland Islands; crater Avarua, named for a town in the Cook Islands; and the valley Waikato Vallis, named for a river in New Zealand.
(By the way, this announcement sees The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction added for the first time to the list of references cited in planetary nomenclature.