The Mariner 10 Television-Science Team has proposed the name "Kuiper" for this very conspicuous bright Mercury crater (top center) on the rim of a larger older crater. Prof. Gerard P. Kuiper, a pioneer in planetary astronomy and a member of the Mariner 10 TV team, died December 23, 1973, while the spacecraft was enroute to Venus and Mercury. Mariner took this picture (FDS 27304) from 88,450 kilometers (55,000 miles) some 2 1/2 hours before it passed Mercury on March 29. The bright-floored crater, 41 kilometers (25 miles) in diameter, is the center of a very large bright are which could be seen in pictures sent from Mariner 10 while Mercury was more than two million miles distant. The larger crater is 80 kilometers (50 miles) across.
The Mariner 10 mission, managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, explored Venus in February 1974 on the way to three encounters with Mercury-in March and September 1974 and in March 1975. The spacecraft took more than 7,000 photos of Mercury, Venus, the Earth and the Moon.