A snowman-formed object that NASA probe New Horizons flew by in early 2019 now has a model-new title. On November 12th, NASA officers introduced that the merchandise is previously often known as MU69 — and as soon as nicknamed Ultima Thule — would now have the identify Arrokoth, which is the phrase for “sky” within the Powhatan / Algonquian language. Arrokoth stays permanently the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft — positioned roughly 4 billion miles away from Earth in a remote area of the Solar System referred to as the Kuiper Belt. The identity was chosen as a result of the group of scientists who function New Horizons relies on Maryland — land the place the Powhatan people lived traditionally. The place many nonetheless reside at present. NASA says that they consulted with Powhatan tribal elders and representatives earlier than deciding on the identity.
“We graciously settle for this reward from the Powhatan individuals,” Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, stated in NASA’s announcement of the name. “Bestowing the identity Arrokoth signifies the power and endurance of the indigenous Algonquian people of the Chesapeake region.” The name Arrokoth replaces the former official designation of 2014 MU69 — which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. It also replaces the object’s nickname, Ultima Thule, a name that dated to historic Rome and meant “beyond the limits of the identified world.” The predecessor of the Nazi Party appropriated the term. That made NASA’s official selection of nicknames highly controversial.
The object itself has fascinated researchers since its discovery in 2014. It wasn’t until 2017 that researchers got any clue what Arrokoth looked like. Interest-only increased after the New Horizons spacecraft zipped by it on New Year’s Day 2019. Pictures from that flyby revealed that the object was far flatter than initially anticipated, and researchers are still analyzing data from the mission.