Ever wanted to name an asteroid?
- By Jack Preston -
- Sep 06, 2012
Virgin Galactic are encouraging young space fanatics to take part in a NASA competition, with one lucky student set to be given the chance to name an asteroid from which an upcoming NASA mission will return the first samples to earth.
The Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer mission, or OSIRIS-Rex for short, is scheduled to launch in 2016. The samples that will be gathered are thought to hold clues to the origin of the solar system.
"Because the samples returned by the mission will be available for study for future generations, it is possible the person who names the asteroid will grow up to study the regolith we return to Earth," explained NASA project scientist Jason Dworkin to Space Ref.
The asteroid itself was discovered in 1999, currently going under the not-so-sexy name of 1999 RQ36. Bill Nye, chief executive officer for The Planetary Society, put it best, explaining: “"Asteroids are just cool and 1999 RQ36 deserves a cool name!"
The competition is open to students under age 18 from anywhere in the world. Each contestant can submit one name, up to 16 characters long. Entries must include a short explanation and rationale for the name. Submissions must be made by an adult on behalf of the student. To find out more visit the NASA website.
So, what would you call the asteroid? Let us know your suggestions…