Washington: The MESSENGER Education and Public Outreach (EPO) Team announced that the contest to name five impact craters on Mercury ends on Thursday, January 15, 2015.
The contest is open to everyone except members of the mission's EPO team and was launched on December 15, 2014.
NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft has been in orbit about Mercury since March 2011. The mission's EPO team was led by Julie Edmonds of the Carnegie Institution for Science.
According to the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the governing body of planetary and satellite nomenclature since 1919, new names for craters on Mercury must be that of an artist, composer, or writer who was famous for more than 50 years and has been dead for more than three years.
The contest allows the public to immortalise an important person in the arts and humanities from anywhere in the world.
Fifteen names for craters will be submitted to the IAU where the governing body will select five winners.
Winning submissions will be announced by the IAU to coincide with the end of MESSENGER's orbital operations in late March or April 2015. IAU decisions will be final.
The name cannot have any political, religious, or military significance. Nor can other features in the Solar System have the same name.
The MESSENGER spacecraft has far surpassed expectations both in the duration of the mission and in the quality and quantity of data. The mission will end this spring as the tiny craft succumbs to gravity and impacts on Mercury.
The EPO team organized the competition to celebrate the mission's achievements.
MESSENGER's primary goal was to take 2,500 images of the planet, but it has returned more than 250,000 images.
(With Agency inputs)