Health Editor’s Note: A while ago we started following the space ice rock that is the most distant body every seen by a human spacecraft. Now we learn that the original name, Ultima Thule, could have reflected some link to Nazi ideology. This has prompted a name change. More ad nauseum political correctness at work here….Carol
NASA Names Most Distant Object Ever Explored ‘Arrokoth,’ the Powhatan Word for Sky
by Jason Daley/Smithsonian.com
Last January, NASA’s New Horizons probe flew past an icy space rock designated nearly four billion miles beyond Pluto. The rock, dubbed 2014 MU69, is the most distant cosmic body ever surveyed by a human spacecraft. At the time, the team nicknamed the object Ultima Thule after a mythical northern land beyond the borders of the known world. But the name didn’t stick due to its usage in Nazi ideology.
This week, NASA announced that the official name for 2014 MU69 will be Arrokoth, which is the word for “sky” in the Powhatan and Algonquian languages. The name was bestowed with the consent of tribal elders and representatives.
“The name ‘Arrokoth’ reflects the inspiration of looking to the skies and wondering about the stars and worlds beyond our own,” planetary scientist Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator, says in a statement. “That desire to learn is at the heart of the New Horizons mission, and we’re honored to join with the Powhatan community and people of Maryland in this celebration of discovery.”
The phrase Ultima Thule originates from classical and Medieval literature that refers to a mythical northern land, often used to designate a place beyond the known borders of the world. But the agency soon received backlash over the choice after the terms’ link to Nazi ideology were revealed in a Newsweek article.