Distant cosmic body renamed over Nazi backlash

The object, originally dubbed "Ultima Thule," was renamed to "Arrokoth" due to the connection between the word "Thule" and the Nazis.

NASA
  • When the New Horizons probe originally visited Arrokoth, the most distant celestial body to have ever been visited by a spacecraft, NASA researchers nicknamed the body "Ultima Thule."
  • Thule refers to a distant mythological civilization. Although it originated in ancient Greek and Roman literature, the Nazis co-opted the term to refer to a mythological homeland of the Aryan people.
  • The new name, Arrokoth, is Powhatan for "sky."
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Outer space capitalism: The legal and technical challenges facing the private space industry

The private sector may need the Outer Space Treaty to be updated before it can make any claims to celestial bodies or their resources.

  • The Outer Space Treaty, which was signed in 1967, is the basis of international space law. Its regulations set out what nations can and cannot do, in terms of colonization and enterprise in space.
  • One major stipulation of the treaty is that no nation can individually claim or colonize any part of the universe—when the US planted a flag on the Moon in 1969, it took great pains to ensure the world it was symbolic, not an act of claiming territory.
  • Essentially to do anything in space, as a private enterprise, you have to be able to make money. When it comes to asteroid mining, for instance, it would be "astronomically" expensive to set up such an industry. The only way to get around this would be if the resources being extracted were so rare you could sell them for a fortune on Earth.
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Experts decide to try knocking an asteroid off course

Before the next big, dangerous, incoming rock arrives.

Image source: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab
  • A NASA/ESA project plans to try and change the path of an extraterrestrial body.
  • The target is the moon of a binary asteroid almost 7 million miles away.
  • Science is getting serious about planetary defense.
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What is the massive thing under the Moon’s surface?

A surprise on the far side of the Moon.

Image source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona
  • Scientists detect a gigantic, underground, metallic anomaly down a crater on the Moon.
  • "Whatever it is, wherever it came from," it looks to be billions of years old.
  • It's probably the remains of an asteroid that hit the Moon.
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Found in Antarctica: A 'weirdo particle' that predates the sun

A tiny grain found within a meteorite in Antarctica sheds light on how the solar system itself came to be.

NASA, ESA, H. Bond (STScI) and M. Barstow (University of Leicester)
  • Researchers cut open a small meteorite found in the LaPaz icefield in Antarctica to uncover a very surprising find.
  • Inside this meteorite was a small inclusion that they determined came directly from the nova of a white dwarf to Earth.
  • By studying the inclusion's composition, researchers were able to glean new insights into the thermodynamics of white dwarf novae, ultimately shedding light onto how solar systems like ours formed.
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