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The farthest explored object is renamed after a Nazi controversy



  ultima thule renamed arrokoth mu69 named 1
Composite image of the binary Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69 from New Horizons Spacecraft Data NASA

NASA scientists from the New Horizons mission have renamed the farthest object Object that was ever explored for political controversy over its original name.

Kuiper Belt Object 201

4 MU69 was the name of Ultima Thule, a medieval term meaning a place beyond the borders of the known world. However, a new name was required after criticizing the political connotations of the term. The word "Thule" was historically used by Nazi predecessors to describe the birthplace of the Aryan race. The term is still used today in some neo-Nazi and old-right circles.

In order to free the astronomical object of such connotations, it was given the new name "Arrokoth". The name comes from an Indian term meaning "heaven," and elders of the Powhatan tribe gave the New Horizons team permission to use it. It's an apt name given that two of the tools used to detect the object, the Hubble Space Telescope and New Horizons Mission, both operated from Maryland, are home to many Powhatans.

"We are taking this gift from the Powhatan with grace to humans," said Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Department of Planetary Science, in a statement. "To give the name Arrokoth means the strength and endurance of the native Algonquians in the Chesapeake region. Their heritage is still a guiding light for those seeking for meaning and understanding of the origins of the universe and the heavenly union of humanity.

In addition to removing the object from the controversy, the New Horizons team agrees with the new name meaning appropriate to the mission. "The name 'Arrokoth' reflects the inspiration to look up into the sky and wonder at the stars and worlds that are beyond our own," said Alan Stern, senior researcher at New Southwest Research Institute's New Horizons, in the same statement , "This desire to learn is at the heart of Mission New Horizons, and we are honored to be part of this celebration of discovery with the Powhatan community and the people of Maryland."

Examining the remote object provided information about how planets are formed when objects like these form planetary building blocks. "Data from the newly named Arrokoth has given us clues about the formation of planets and our cosmic origin," said Marc Buie of the Southwest Research Institute. "We believe that this ancient body, consisting of two distinct lumps that merge into one, has answers that contribute to our understanding of the origin of life on Earth."

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