The 2014 MU69 is no longer the most distant object ever explored with a name. Drawing inspiration from the Powhatan community, the 34-kilometer body discovered on January 1, 2019, has been officially named the Arrokoth.
The body, visited by the New Horizon run by NASA, has been named Arrokoth, a term meaning sky, mission officials said. According to Alan Stern from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Colorado, the name Arrokoth reflects the wonder of space and how the skies and the stars are an inspiration to many. He added that the team is determined to learn as much as they can in the mission and that they are honored to celebrate the discovery with the Powhatan tribe and the entire community of Maryland.
The New Horizon is deeply rooted in the community, just as much as the Powhatan people. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory based in Laurel, Maryland, runs the mission. The Arrokoth was also discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope, whose observations have guided the planning of flybys to Pluto and Arrokoth. The Space Telescope Institute runs the Hubble in Baltimore. The Horizon’s flight around Pluto, taking place in July 2015, was the highlight of its mission, with the flyby around the Arrokoth being a part of its extended mission.
The Arrokoth is among the many cold bodies in the Kuiper Belt, a zone beyond Neptune’s orbit in the Solar system. The organization, like many others in the region, has existed without undergoing many geological changes in its existence, thereby giving clues to the formation of planets in our system. This is according to Marc Buie, a member of the New Horizons team, who added that he believes the Arrokoth may hold answers that will build upon knowledge on the origin of life on earth. The New Horizons team had appropriately nicknamed the body ‘Ultima Thule’ which means cold and distant lands. The over 4 billion-year-old body is composed of two lobes merged into one.
According to the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the people discovering any object in space get the privilege of naming it. Thus the New Horizons team proposed the name after getting the nod from representatives of the Powhatan tribe. Lori Glaza, NASA’s director in the Planetary Science Division, appreciated the Powhatan people for the consent to use the name in a statement at the event in NASA’s headquarters. The event was opened by Rev. Nick Miles from the Pamunkey tribe, which is a member of the Powhatan Confederacy.
This post was originally published on Financial Sector