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NASA needs your help to assign a nickname to a faraway world

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NASA invites public to name its next flyby target

The space object NASA wants to name now goes by the designation "486958 2014 MU69", also called MU69.

After the flight, NASA and the New Horizons project plan to select an official name to be sent to the global astronomical Union, based in part on whether MU69 as a whole, the binary pair or perhaps a system of several objects.

Until then, we're excited to bring people into the mission and share in what will be an fantastic flyby on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, 2019!

When the New Horizons spacecraft flies past the object, NASA will officially name it something that will be presented to the International Astronomical Union, but until then it is up to you, science lover, to name the far-out object.

You can submit your suggestion at www.frontierworlds.org or vote for one of the names already being considered.

SETI Institute of Mountain View, California inspired the idea to collect names from the public for New Horizon's latest target.

NASA has a list of some of the names suggested so far, and a ranking for the votes, including Mjölnir (Thor's hammer, now in the lead), Z'ha'dum (a fictional planet from the TV series "Babylon 5"), and Peanut/Almond/Cashew. People can vote for their favorites or nominate names they think should be added to the ballot.

"The campaign is open to everyone", said Mark Showalter, a member of the New Horizons team.

It is unclear why NASA representatives did not agree to keep the name "MU69".

Everyone can vote once per day until the project ends on December 1 at 3:00 p.m. EST / noon PST at the site, Frontier Worlds. It's a maddeningly boring name, and it just doesn't quite capture the adventure, the thrill, the awe of an earthly spacecraft visiting an object over 4 billion miles away. The team has kept this title interim because of the uncertainty in the type of target.

Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado said, "New Horizons has always been about pure exploration, shedding light on new worlds like we've never seen before. Our close encounter with MU69 adds another chapter to this mission's remarkable story". The U.S. space agency says that its main goal was to answer questions surrounding Pluto, its moons and other Kuiper Belt objects. "Until then, we're excited to bring people into the mission and share in what will be an fantastic flyby on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, 2019!"

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