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posted by Fnord666 on Thursday November 09 2017, @04:53AM   Printer-friendly
from the Kuiper-McKuiperface dept.

The next flyby target of the New Horizons mission (the first spacecraft to visit Pluto) is 2014 MU69. NASA is asking the public to help name it. The name(s) are unlikely to be submitted to the International Astronomical Union before the flyby on January 1, 2019, because scientists are still unsure if 2014 MU69 consists of one or more objects.

To prevent a Boaty McBoatface redux, the New Horizons team is allowing you to pick from a number of options or submit your own name for consideration by December 1st. The poll is only to gauge support; they will decide which name(s) to submit to the IAU (which could also reject the name(s)). And the binary (trinary?) status of 2014 MU69 is likely to affect the name(s) chosen. The names currently being considered are:

  • Año Nuevo ("New Year" in Spanish)
  • Camalor (fictional city in the Kuiper Belt)
  • Chomolungma, Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest in Tibet and Nepal)
  • Kibo, Mawenzi, Shira (peaks of Mt. Kilimanjaro)
  • Mjölnir (Thor's hammer)
  • Pangu (from Chinese mythology, emerged from yin and yang)
  • Peanut, Almond, Cashew (shapes for small bodies)
  • Pluck & Persistence (traits of New Horizons)
  • Sagittarius (constellation behind MU69/mythical centaur)
  • Uluru (Ayers Rock, largest rock on Earth, an "island mountain")
  • Z'ha'dum (fictional planet at the edge of the galaxy)

Also at CNET.

Previously: Occultations of New Horizons' Next Target (2014 MU69) Observed
New Horizons Target 2014 MU69 May be a "Contact Binary"
New Horizons Flyby Plan Finalized; Pluto Features Named


Original Submission

Related Stories

Occultations of New Horizons' Next Target (2014 MU69) Observed 2 comments

Astronomers have observed the tiny Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69 as it passed in front of a background star:

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft changed our view of the outer solar system forever when it flew by Pluto in 2015. Now, it's on its way to the next destination: a Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known only as 2014 MU69. Although the spacecraft won't reach its target until New Year's Day in 2019, NASA is already looking ahead to learn as much about 2014 MU69 as possible, thanks to a convenient temporary alignment that recently allowed the object to pass in front of a background star.

[...] "This effort, spanning six months, three spacecraft, 24 portable ground-based telescopes, and NASA's SOFIA airborne observatory was the most challenging stellar occultation in the history of astronomy, but we did it!" said Alan Stern, the New Horizons mission principal investigator, in a press release. "We spied the shape and size of 2014 MU69 for the first time, a Kuiper Belt scientific treasure we will explore just over 17 months from now. Thanks to this success we can now plan the upcoming flyby with much more confidence."

The physical characteristics of 2014 MU69 are still unclear. It is estimated to have a diameter between 18 and 41 km, but may be composed of multiple objects.

Previously: New Horizons Measures the Brightness of Galaxies Before Going Into Hibernation


Original Submission

New Horizons Target 2014 MU69 May be a "Contact Binary" 10 comments

2014 MU69, which New Horizons will fly by on January 1, 2019, appears to have an elongated shape or may be comprised of two objects:

Based on the occultation data, 2014 MU69 definitely appears to have an odd shape. In a press release, NASA officials said that it's either football shaped or a type of object called a contact binary. The size of MU69 or its components also can be determined from these data. It appears to be no more than 20 miles (30 km) long, or, if a binary, each about 9-12 miles (15-20 km) in diameter.

By comparison, Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko consists of a large lobe measuring about 4.1 × 3.3 × 1.8 km and a small lobe of about 2.6 × 2.3 × 1.8 km.


Original Submission

New Horizons Flyby Plan Finalized; Pluto Features Named 6 comments

The New Horizons spacecraft will fly closer to the Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69 than it did to Pluto in 2015. 2014 MU69 is thought to be a binary pair or contact binary:

New Horizons' highest-resolution camera, the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), has imaged details as small as 600 feet (183 meters) in diameter on Pluto's surface; however, on MU69, it will be able to resolve details down to a diameter of 230 feet (70 meters).

"We're planning to fly closer to MU69 than to Pluto to get even higher resolution imagery and other datasets. The science should be spectacular," emphasized mission Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado.

[...] Observations of the KBO conducted in July when it passed in front of a star suggest that it could be a binary system composed of two objects or a single object with two lobes.

The International Astronomical Union has announced names for 14 features (such as craters, valleys, and mountain ranges) on Pluto:

These include Tombaugh Regio for the "heart" feature on Pluto's surface, Sputnik Planitia for the icy plain on the left side of the heart, Burney crater for a crater west of the heart, Voyager Terra for a region northwest of the heart, and several more.

[...] "The approved designations honor many people and space missions who paved the way for the historic exploration of Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, the farthest worlds ever explored," Stern said.

Source: spaceflightinsider.com

Previously: Occultations of New Horizons' Next Target (2014 MU69) Observed
New Horizons Target 2014 MU69 May be a "Contact Binary"


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @04:56AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @04:56AM (#594440)

    This kind of thing is so patronizing.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @04:59AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @04:59AM (#594442)

    MeU69

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @05:00AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @05:00AM (#594445)

    Me... you... 69... a bottle of wine will maybe make it better

    That's the way to make women welcomed in science, right?

  • (Score: 2) by jmorris on Thursday November 09 2017, @05:30AM (5 children)

    by jmorris (4844) on Thursday November 09 2017, @05:30AM (#594452)

    Much as I like B5 and would like to give it a little love, a puny rock is a poor choice to waste Z'ha'dum on. Gotta be Kibo, all old timers understand, been too long since anyone paid tribute to He Who Greps. A fitting name for a smallish worldlet.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @08:48AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @08:48AM (#594532)

      It was a long time ago now that I watched B5 but wasn't Z'ha'dum destroyed? So it might not be an entirely suitable name. Plus it wasn't really tiny, but then perhaps as far as astronomical things go it might all be relative.

      • (Score: 2) by jmorris on Thursday November 09 2017, @09:16AM (1 child)

        by jmorris (4844) on Thursday November 09 2017, @09:16AM (#594543)

        Nah, Sheridan dropped a White Star loaded with a pair of fusion bombs right on top of himself and the Shadow capital but that wouldn't destroy a planet, not one that appeared to have close to 1G gravity. And from the ruined look of the surface I doubt he was even the first one to nuke those guys.

        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @01:26PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @01:26PM (#594579)

          If I recall correctly the shadows booby trapped the planet, they go back after the defeat and see a fleet of shadow allies fleeing the planet which then explodes

    • (Score: 2) by KritonK on Thursday November 09 2017, @08:50AM (1 child)

      by KritonK (465) on Thursday November 09 2017, @08:50AM (#594533)

      Z'ha'dum is the name that stood out from the rest for me. You are right, though. In addition to the name being inappropriate for a Kuiper Belt Object, it is also unpronounceable, if you are not a Babylon 5 fan. (It's unpronounceable even if you are, as it was pronounced Za-ha-dum in the show.)

      Being a Larry Niven fan, I also think that Tiamat, the name of a habitable asteroid in Alpha Centauri's asteroid belt, is inappropriate (wrong size, wrong belt, wrong sun).

      So guess which two names got my vote! ☺

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @04:25PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @04:25PM (#594679)

        How about Tremorlor [wikia.com]?

  • (Score: 2) by ese002 on Thursday November 09 2017, @05:53AM (2 children)

    by ese002 (5306) on Thursday November 09 2017, @05:53AM (#594460)

    Larry, Curly, and Moe

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @06:17AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @06:17AM (#594465)

    My gut feeling is it's a "Sally"

  • (Score: 1) by Muad'Dave on Thursday November 09 2017, @01:46PM (1 child)

    by Muad'Dave (1413) on Thursday November 09 2017, @01:46PM (#594584)

    I think it would be a nice tribute to name them after Lawrence Welk's daughters that he mentions at the beginning of every song: Anna-1, Anna-2, Anna-3.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @05:13PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @05:13PM (#594709)

      You're old.

  • (Score: 2) by Snow on Thursday November 09 2017, @03:28PM

    by Snow (1601) on Thursday November 09 2017, @03:28PM (#594629) Journal

    ... and it's Rocky McRockface

  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @03:40PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @03:40PM (#594642)

    Old Horizons

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Thursday November 09 2017, @03:53PM (5 children)

    by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday November 09 2017, @03:53PM (#594657)

    > Año Nuevo ("New Year" in Spanish)

    The Spanish are dictatorial fascists (as recently as the mid-70s) and can't even keep their country together now, and they've done precisely zero in space exploration. Also, "new year" is a stupid name for any space object.

    > Camalor (fictional city in the Kuiper Belt)

    What sci-fi book is this from? No, let's not name astronomical objects after stuff invented in modern sci-fi. I guess it's better than some of the alternatives though.

    > Chomolungma, Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest in Tibet and Nepal)

    Too long. And these names are already used for a mountain; why do we want to reuse them for a KBO?

    > Kibo, Mawenzi, Shira (peaks of Mt. Kilimanjaro)

    Same as above, though at least the names are shorter and more catchy.

    > Mjölnir (Thor's hammer)

    I like this one; most of our other solar system bodies are named after mythology, so it fits. It'll be hard to type though because of the umlauts; most English speakers have no idea how to type that.

    > Pangu (from Chinese mythology, emerged from yin and yang)

    It's mythological, but not from one of the Indo-European pantheon-type mythologies. And it sounds weird.

    > Peanut, Almond, Cashew (shapes for small bodies)

    Very stupid.

    > Pluck & Persistence (traits of New Horizons)

    Also very stupid.

    > Sagittarius (constellation behind MU69/mythical centaur)

    This is extremely stupid: the name is already used for an astronomical thing. This just generates confusion.

    > Uluru (Ayers Rock, largest rock on Earth, an "island mountain")

    This rock is now being restricted from access to tourists, so the name shouldn't get the honor of being used elsewhere. Besides, it's the same problem as the other mountain-names above. Why do you want to name an astronomical body after a mountain on Earth? There's no precedence for this, and it generates confusion.

    > Z'ha'dum (fictional planet at the edge of the galaxy)

    Unpronouncable, only known to B5 fans; a terrible idea.

    Why can't they just use more names out of the Greek and Roman pantheons like before? There's no shortage of names from those, and no one believes in those mythologies anymore so it's pretty neutral. The Norse pantheon is pretty good too. I'd suggest the Hindu one, as it's also very colorful, but there's still a billion people who actually believe there's some god out there with an elephant head, so I think it's better to wait until no one is left who believes it, so it doesn't look like it's pandering to some existing religion. Maybe they should use names from the now-dead Inca or Aztec mythologies.

    • (Score: 2) by MadTinfoilHatter on Thursday November 09 2017, @04:15PM

      by MadTinfoilHatter (4635) on Thursday November 09 2017, @04:15PM (#594671)

      You're right. All those names are bad. Frankly I can't figure out how anyone could miss the opportunity to name it Rupert [wikia.com].

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday November 09 2017, @04:15PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday November 09 2017, @04:15PM (#594672) Journal

      Why can't they just use more names out of the Greek and Roman pantheons like before? There's no shortage of names from those

      Are you sure?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_planet#Naming [wikipedia.org]

      The first few asteroids were named after figures from Greek and Roman mythology but as such names started to dwindle the names of famous people, literary characters, discoverer's wives, children, and even television characters were used.

      Over 20,000 minor planets have been named.

      Any good mythological names we have left should be saved for something like Planet Nine, or at least a gravitationally rounded dwarf planet.

      You probably have to go further afield than Norse [wikipedia.org] mythology. 90377 Sedna is named after an Inuit goddess.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @04:46PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @04:46PM (#594692)

      It'll be hard to type though because of the umlauts; most English speakers have no idea how to type that.

      I think you mean Windows users. I'm using Windows because I'm at work and proprietary, shit software that only runs on shit operating systems like Windows makes the world go round. I have no idea how to type that.

      However, once I get home, I will know exactly how to type that, thanks to free software. compose, :, o = ö.

      For the comments here, while I'm forced to use a shit OS, HTML entities work well enough. I should probably stop my bitching and get around to installing Gentoo with Windows shit in a VM already. Of course, that takes effort, and will do nothing to prevent feminists and their white knight cavalry blaming me for their own inability to follow Linux from Scratch to learn how an operating system is assembled from free software that feminists are equally empowered to fork in search of their "feminist software," whatever the hell that would be.

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @05:02PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @05:02PM (#594701)

        Dude, you've got issues.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @10:40PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09 2017, @10:40PM (#594890)

      From Ghostbusters:

      Gozer (The Traveller)

      Look at the image and tell me that doesn't make a lot more sense.

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