You Can Give New Horizons’ Next Flyby Target a (Temporary) Name

You have a possibility to hang a nickname on a small, apart intent that NASA’s New Horizons booster will wizz past on Jan. 1, 2019.

That flyby aim now goes by a rather uninspiring moniker “(486958) 2014 MU69.” But a New Horizons group wants to jazz things adult a bit, so they’re soliciting nickname suggestions from a ubiquitous public.

“The debate is open to everyone,” New Horizons group member Mark Showalter, of a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California, pronounced in a statement. “We are anticipating that somebody out there proposes a perfect, moving name for MU69.” [Destination Pluto: NASA’s New Horizons Mission in Pictures]

You can contention a idea by Dec. 1 during NASA and New Horizons group members will announce a leader in early January.

To be clear: That leader will be a nickname, not a new central classification of MU69.

“After a flyby, once we know a lot some-more about this intriguing world, we and NASA will work with a International Astronomical Union to allot a grave name to MU69,” Showalter added. “Until then, we’re vehement to move people into a goal and share in what will be an extraordinary flyby on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, 2019!”

The arriving flyby will be a second for a $700 million New Horizons mission, that famously cruised past Pluto on Jul 14, 2015. Before that tighten encounter, a best photos of a dwarf universe showed a small fuzz of pixels. But New Horizons’ overwhelming imagery suggested a complex, different universe with a accumulation of landscapes, from large plateau of H2O ice to a plain of solidified nitrogen 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) wide.

Like pre-flyby Pluto, MU69 — that lies about 1 billion miles (1.6 billion km) over a dwarf universe — is cloaked in mystery. For example, astronomers don’t even know if it’s a singular object; MU69 could include of a span of bodies, any about 12 miles (19 km) wide, New Horizons group members have said.

“New Horizons has always been about pristine exploration, shedding light on new worlds like we’ve never seen before,” New Horizons principal questioner Alan Stern, of a Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, pronounced in the same statement.

“Our tighten confront with MU69 adds another section to this mission’s conspicuous story,” Stern added. “We’re vehement for a open to assistance us collect a nickname for a aim that captures a fad of a flyby and [the] astonishment and impulse of exploring this new and record-distant physique in space.” 

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on

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