How would you feel if NASA approves your chosen name for an asteroid and every people will call the asteroid by your given name? If that really happens then I’m guessing, you might be flying in air with joy. This is not a dream; it may really happen! In the space, there is an asteroid known as (101955) 1999 RQ36 which may hit our planet Earth in far future. Undoubtedly, the name is difficult to remember and weird to pronounce. So, NASA scientists are giving students across the world an opportunity to name that asteroid. This is a golden chance for every student to represent him before NASA and the world.
Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) discovered (101955) 1999 RQ36 on September 11, 1999. Around 170 years later from now, the (101955) 1999 RQ36 may appear as a threat to earth when it’ll swing close to our planet. Researchers have said that 1,837 feet (560 meters) wide asteroid (101955) 1999 RQ36 may hit (1 out of 1,410 chance) the Earth in Sept. 24, 2182. Whether it hits the planet or not, NASA is planning to launch a $800 million probe called OSIRIS-REx towards (101955) 1999 RQ36 in 2016. This probe will reach the asteroid in 2019. The mission is to study the asteroid, take/collect some sample (soil and rock) and return to Earth by 2023 with the samples for further study. After complete study of (101955) 1999 RQ36, NASA will send astronauts to the asteroid in 2025.
Usually who discovers something, gives a real name of that discovered thing. Astronomers at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory discovered the asteroid (101955) 1999 RQ36 in 1999. So they should have given a name. But they didn’t do that. Rather the astronomers made a partnership with the Planetary Society and the University of Arizona to arrange an open online contest for worldwide students to select a name for the (101955) 1999 RQ36.
OSIRIS-REx project scientist Jason Dworkin, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a news release, “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.”
Only under 18 students from all over the world can participate in this asteroid naming contest. Each participant can submit only one name (maximum 16 characters long) with a short explanation and rationale for the name (maximum 900 characters). But students can’t submit the post directly; rather their submissions must be made by an adult on behalf of the participant. Submissions must be made through the official contest entry form. The contest has begun from September 4 and deadline for entering the contest is December 2, 2012. For more information, head over to The Planetary Society.
Chief executive officer Bill Nye, for The Planetary Society, said in a statement, “Asteroids are just cool and 1999 RQ36 deserves a cool name! Engaging kids around the world in a naming contest will get them tuned in to asteroids and asteroid science.”
However after getting all submissions, a panel of judges will review the proposed asteroid names. As soon as the chosen name for (101955) 1999 RQ36 is approved by the International Astronomical Union Committee for Small-Body Nomenclature, the winner’s name will be announced then.
I wanted to take part in this naming contest, but bad luck for me (I’m 18+). But, if you are under 18 and a student, then are you planning to take part in this naming contest? Parents and guardians, what are you thinking? Will you inspire your beloved children to take part in this historic contest? Don’t hesitate to share your thought with us.