Spaceflight Insider

Vote on names for New Horizons’ second target extended to Dec. 6

New Horizons 2014 MU69 flyby

Artist’s concept of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flying by a possible binary 2014 MU69 on Jan. 1, 2019. Early observations of MU69 hint at the Kuiper Belt object being either a binary orbiting pair or a contact (stuck together) pair of nearly like-sized bodies with diameters near 20 and 18 kilometers (12 and 11 miles). Image & Caption Credit: Carlos Hernandez / NASA / JHU-APL / SwRI

NASA’s public campaign seeking name suggestions for New Horizons‘ second target, 2014 MU69, has garnered so many creative suggestions that its deadline has been extended for another five days.

Anyone interested in voting for a name already nominated or nominating a new name now has until Wednesday, December 6, 2017, at 9:00 p.m PST / midnight EST (05:00 GMT Dec. 7) to do so.

An artist's impression of what MU69 might look like. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Alex Parker

An artist’s impression of what MU69 might look like. Image Credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI / Alex Parker

The deadline comes just slightly over a year ahead of the flyby, which will take place on New Year’s Day 2019.

A total of 96,000 votes have been cast to date, and 31,000 more have been nominated. Votes were submitted by people from 118 countries.

So many impressive nicknames were provided that the New Horizons team decided members of the public should have more time to vote.

Everyone is permitted to vote once per day at the Frontier Worlds site. Once per hour, the page is updated to reflect the most recent data.

Names that receive enough votes for mission scientists to be confident there is a consensus in their favor are regularly retired to allow the addition of new nominations to the existing list.

Members of the New Horizons team will review the selections with the greatest number of votes and select a name, which will be announced at the beginning of January 2018.

The winning name will actually be a nickname used during the MU69 flyby and exploration. Once the flyby is over, members of the New Horizons mission will work with the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to come up with a formal name.

Because MU69 may be a binary system, two nicknames, as well as two formal names, might be needed.



Laurel Kornfeld is an amateur astronomer and freelance writer from Highland Park, NJ, who enjoys writing about astronomy and planetary science. She studied journalism at Douglass College, Rutgers University, and earned a Graduate Certificate of Science from Swinburne University’s Astronomy Online program. Her writings have been published online in The Atlantic, Astronomy magazine’s guest blog section, the UK Space Conference, the 2009 IAU General Assembly newspaper, The Space Reporter, and newsletters of various astronomy clubs. She is a member of the Cranford, NJ-based Amateur Astronomers, Inc. Especially interested in the outer solar system, Laurel gave a brief presentation at the 2008 Great Planet Debate held at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, MD.

Reader Comments

Don’t name it till you see it! Suppose you name it Sunshine and it turns out to be black as coal? You’re making the classic astronomical mistake of giving names that just don’t apply.

my name is on the spacecraft

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