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by ibgames

EARTHDATE: March 18, 2018

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by Hazed

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is on its way to the farthest reaches of the Solar System, where it will be flying past a Kuiper Belt object in January 2019. Now that object has been given a nickname which is much more catchy than its official designation of MU69.

It’s going to be called Ultima Thule. Thule (pronounced thoo-lee) was a mythical, far-northern island in medieval literature and cartography. Ultima Thule means “beyond Thule” – beyond the borders of the known world – symbolizing the exploration of the distant Kuiper Belt and Kuiper Belt objects that New Horizons is performing, something never before done.

The nickname was chosen after an online contest invited nominations from the public. 115,000 people from around the world nominated around 34,000 names. 37 of those were chosen for the short list (eight suggested by the New Horizons team itself and 29 by the public). A ballot narrowed the list down to the most popular 29 names.

Ultima Thule was nominated about 40 times, and was one of the highest vote-getters.

Once the probe has completed its flyby, the New Horizons team will choose a formal name to submit for the object, based on what the flyby shows – whether it’s a single object, a binary pair or perhaps a system of multiple objects.

Source: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/new-horizons-chooses-nickname-for-ultimate-flyby-target

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