Darn. Like many others, I really liked the name Ultima Thule for an object on the edge of our solar system, the farthest object ever visited by an earthly spaceship. The name is a mythological reference to a distant, mysterious land somewhere far and cold . The vehicle that visited it was, of course, New Horizons, the same vehicle that showed us the amazing images of Pluto in 2015. After his Pluto encounter, New Horizons pushed into the Kuiper belt and aimed for an object that was originally known as the 2014 MU69, as a space scientist and the public decided it needs a new name. Just before the meeting with New Horizons on 1 January 2019 they chose the name Ultima Thule. Then, a Newsweek reporter pointed out that the NSDAP had used the term Ultima Thule to refer to the mythical homeland of the Aryan people. The term apparently continues to be used by modern so-called alt-right groups. Now the object has a new name again. The name is now Arrokoth which means Heaven in the languages Powhatan and Algonquian.
NASA yesterday (November 12, 2019) held a name-giving ceremony in Washington DC MU69 its new official name Arrokoth. The name was chosen because of local Native American culture in Maryland, where the New Horizons Missions Control Center is located.
A wealth of data from New Horizon's encounter with Arrokoth is still being sent back to Earth for analysis. The scientists used the New Horizons cameras to detect the strange, double-lobed shape that suggests a long-time potentially cautious collision between two objects. Arrokoth also appears to be covered with methane or nitrogen ice, giving it a red glow.
Around the time the name Ultima Thule came into use, Mark Showalter, a planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute and researcher on the New Horizons mission that led the naming process, was Newsweek said:
"Beyond the limits of the known world" – that's such a beautiful metaphor for what we're doing this year.
] And that's how it was. But the association with the Nazis and the Old Right evidently caused a rebound. Hence the name change.
I have just read a wonderful book about the use of social media by old rights (Antisocial: online extremists, techno-utopians and the kidnapping of the American conversation by Andrew Marantz). In it he describes how the old-right and white nationalist movements reject much that the mainstream media has to say as "lies". They also have a great aversion to political correctness.
One can only imagine the alt -push-back runs today in the alt-right media community, given this name change.
Conclusion: The Kuiper Belt object, formerly known as the 2014 MU69 – later known as Ultima Thule – was renamed again. The new name is Arrokoth.
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