NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt is in search of your concepts on what to informally title its subsequent flyby vacation spot, a billion miles (1.6 billion kilometres) previous Pluto.
On New Year’s Day 2019, the New Horizons spacecraft will fly previous a small, frozen world within the Kuiper Belt, on the outer fringe of our photo voltaic system. The goal Kuiper Belt object (KBO) presently goes by the official designation “(486958) 2014 MU69.” NASA and the New Horizons group are asking the general public for badist in giving “MU69” a nickname to make use of for this exploration goal.
“New Horizons made history two years ago with the first close-up look at Pluto, and is now on course for the farthest planetary encounter in the history of spaceflight,” mentioned Thomas Zurbuchen, affiliate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “We’re pleased to bring the public along on this exciting mission of discovery.”
After the flyby, NASA and the New Horizons challenge plan to decide on a proper title to undergo the International Astronomical Union, primarily based partially on whether or not MU69 is discovered to be a single physique, a binary pair, or maybe a system of a number of objects. The chosen nickname will probably be used within the interim.
“New Horizons has always been about pure exploration, shedding light on new worlds like we’ve never seen before,” mentioned Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “Our close encounter with MU69 adds another chapter to this mission’s remarkable story. We’re excited for the public to help us pick a nickname for our target that captures the excitement of the flyby and awe and inspiration of exploring this new and record-distant body in space.”
The naming marketing campaign is hosted by the SETI Institute of Mountain View, California, and led by Mark Showalter, an institute fellow and member of the New Horizons science group. The web site (https://frontierworlds.seti.org) contains names presently into consideration; web site guests can vote for his or her favorites or nominate names they suppose ought to be added to the poll. “The campaign is open to everyone,” Showalter mentioned. “We are hoping that somebody out there proposes the perfect, inspiring name for MU69.”
The marketing campaign will shut at three pm EST/12 midday PST (2000 GMT) on Dec. 1. NASA and the New Horizons group will overview the highest vote-getters and announce their choice in early January.
Telescopic observations of MU69, which is greater than four billion miles (6.5 billion kilometres) from Earth, trace on the Kuiper Belt object being both a binary orbiting pair or a contact (caught collectively) pair of practically like-sized our bodies — which means the group may really need two or extra short-term tags for its goal.
“Many Kuiper Belt Objects have had informal names at first, before a formal name was proposed. After the flyby, once we know a lot more about this intriguing world, we and NASA will work with the International Astronomical Union to badign a formal name to MU69,” Showalter mentioned. “Until then, we’re excited to bring people into the mission and share in what will be an amazing flyby on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, 2019!”