Sci-tech

NASA is letting you name an object in the Kuiper Belt

NASA is letting you name an object in the Kuiper Belt

MU69 is located approximately one billion miles (1.6 billion km) beyond Pluto and four billion miles (6.5 km) from Earth.

Go to the website to see names now under consideration; site visitors can also vote for their favorites or nominate names they think should be added to the ballot.

Nasa and Seti (Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence Institute) have called on public votes to help choose a nickname for a large rock which is set to be analysed in their next flyby mission far outside the solar system.

Observations of MU69 conducted this past summer, when it occulted or passed in front, of a star, suggest it could be a double-lobed object like Comet 67P, a swarm of objects, or a binary system comprised of two objects.

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The team at New Horizons, along with NASA, will review your best ideas and pick a victor in early January, 2018. Once the flyby takes place and they get all the required details, they are planning to submit an official title to the International Astronomical Union. "Until then, we're excited to bring people into the mission and share in what will be an incredible flyby on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, 2019!" "The target Kuiper Belt object (KBO) is now officially listed as "(486958) 2014 MU69".

The campaign will close at 3 P.M. EST on December 1 and the space agency will reveal the selection in January, a year before the intended trip. "We're pleased to bring the public along on this exciting mission of discovery". The campaign is open for voting by everyone, the report added.

On Jan. 1, 2019, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft - which flew past Pluto in July 2015 - will fly by MU69, taking an up-close look at a world (or worlds) never seen in detail before.

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

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"It's a good idea to propose two or more names that go together".

Still, researchers say they're excited to involve the public in the naming process and hope to land on a name "that captures the excitement of the flyby and awe and inspiration of exploring this new and record-distant body in space", said Alan Stern, principal investigator for the New Horizons team, in a statement.

After the flyby, NASA will work to formalize the object's new designation with the International Astronomical Union, which oversees the naming of all celestial objects.

When the team encounters MU69, it would check another milestone for the New Horizon mission.

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