Are you in the real estate market and looking for a unique piece of property or perhaps you want to own a slice of some exotic location? If so, there is real estate up for sale on Mars. Well, kind of. A company called Uwingu has launched its latest crowdfunding venture and is allowing consumers and space fans to give names to unnamed craters spanning the Martian terrain.
Martian 'real estate' for sale
According to Space.com, effective Feb. 26, 2014, "anyone with an Internet connection and a few dollars to spare" can give a crater a name. Uwingu indicates only 15,000 Martian features are currently named to date, but there are more than 500,000 features that remain unnamed on the planet. The price per land feature ranges from $5 on up, depending on the size of the hole.
If a crater isn't enough to whet your real estate investment appetite, you can buy a District or a Province on the red planet. Newsweek reported a District, which spans about 89,000 acres (360 square kilometers), goes for about $3,000 and a Province, which is more than 80 million acres (32,400 square kilometers) for $10,000.
Names are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. All names are accepted, unless they are vulgar or offensive in some way, notes the company.
What does the public get in exchange?
Clearly, most people won't get the chance to visit their slice of Mars in person, so what is the advantage? Basically, the public gets to name their purchased crater, or other land mass, and that name will be placed on a public Martian map that is being designed. The map is expected to be ready by 2015 and will grandfather in any previously designated names.
"Every crater named on this public Mars Map contributes to the Uwingu fund for space research and education," said Uwingu founder and planetary scientist Dr. Alan Stern in a press release. "So name a crater on Mars-and make an impact of your own!"
Newsweek indicated in its report that since the International Astronomical Union (IAU) manages names for any celestial bodies, it is unclear what people will get for their money. Uwingu reportedly did not seek approval from the IAU and this map will be more of an informal one, Stern describes it as "People's Choice" naming.
Where do the proceeds go?
Uwingu is a company that is dedicated to funding space-related projects, such as exploration, research and other education plans, many of which are threatened through government budget cuts. Through selling names for Martian craters, the cash raised will go towards these types of ventures. The company is hoping to raise about $10 million to go towards special out-of-this-world ventures. The money raised by naming 'real estate' in space goes towards a variety of projects, such as training and equipment. The company has a page dedicated to currently funded projects.
A March 3, 2014 press release indicated the Mars One Space Mission, a private entity, will use the maps and also carry to the Mars surface in its expedition. Mars One is a not-for-profit organization that has intentions to establish permanent human presence on Mars. The first crew scheduled to move to the red planet is currently set to arrive in 2024.
Uwingu was founded in 2012 by Stern, who is also a former director of science programs and missions at NASA. The company's name means "sky" in Swahili. A team of dedicated experts contribute to the organization's crowdfunding ventures. Uwingu indicated it plans to name other Mars features, such as canyons and mountains, according to the Space.com report.