Meet Melba Mouton: NASA named moon mountain after black mathematician

headshot of melba mouton, black nasa mathematician, in black and white imagery

The name of Melba Mouton – a prominent Black mathematician – will be designated by NASA on a Delaware-size flat moon mountain near the water-rich lunar south pole. The moon’s south pole is a target of Artemis programme astronauts, who are expected to land as soon as 2005.

Notably, the mountain is one of the 13 candidates landing site for Artemis 3, and is adjacent to where the agency’s ice-hunting VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover) lunar rover will touch down in 2024 or so upon Astrobotic’s Griffin lunar lander.

NASA officials informed that it was the VIPER team who proposed Mons Mouton’s name. “Mouton charted a path for other women and people of color to pursue careers and lead cutting-edge science at NASA,” Sandra Connelly, the agency’s acting associate administrator for science, said.


Mouton joined NASA in 1959 at the Goddard Space Flight Center near Baltimore. Shortly after Mouton joined NASA, she became the head mathematician of the ‘human computers’ who tracked the early communications satellites, Echo 1 and Echo 2, that reached Earth’s orbit in 1960 and 1964.

Mouton was then promoted to head programmer in 1961, leading a team responsible for tracking spacecraft locations and trajectories.

Received Apollo achievement award:

Mouton’s retirement came in 1973 after she was appointed assistant chief of research programs for the trajectory and geodynamics division at Goddard. She was also adjudged an Apollo Achievement after the successful Apollo 11 debut human moon landing of July 20, 1969.

About Mons Mouton (the mountain)

The mountain that holds Mouton’s name is roughly as tall as 20,310-foot (6,190 meter) Denali, the highest mountain in North America.

The surface appears relatively old and unmarked by craters, making this plateau a potential zone to learn about the moon’s very early history.

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