NASA plans to etch Melba Mouton's (1929-1990) name onto a flat lunar mountain the size of Delaware near the moon's water-rich south pole. It is anticipated that by 2025,
This mountain is one of 13 potential landing spots for Artemis 3, and it is located close to where NASA's ice-hunting VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover) lunar rover will arrive in 2024 or so via Astrobotic's Griffin lunar lander.
"Mons Mouton" (MOO-tawn) has also been suggested to the International Astronomical Union that acts as the official designator of space landmarks throughout the globe.
Mouton "charted a route for other women and people of colour to pursue careers and lead cutting-edge research at NASA," Sandra Connelly, the agency's acting assistant administrator for science, said in the statement.
The statement was made during Black History Month, which runs during the month of February. The naming is also a powerful tribute to the "Hidden Figures," a group of African-American women.
Mouton joined NASA in 1959 at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Baltimore. After decades of slavery, lynchings, and institutional prejudice, segregation and discrimination against African-Americans were commonplace during this period.
Many Black people laboured in the background in this tough climate, and NASA has been working to emphasise their efforts in the last decade as the Black community still confronts several institutional and cultural impediments today.
One of NASA's greatest gestures came with naming the agency's headquarters after Black mathematician Katherine Johnson in 2020. NASA has also promised to landing people of colour on the moon.
Soon after Mouton joined NASA, she became the lead mathematician of the "human computers" who followed the early communications satellites, Echo 1 and Echo 2, that entered Earth's orbit in 1960 and 1964.
Commercial Lunar Payload Services programme awardees. CLPS proposes to transport a suite of research robots and payloads to the moon's surface to complement the Artemis missions.