'Sky' is the limit

16 December 2019

NASA has renamed a faraway ice planet after a major backlash over the name’s Nazi link.

The farthest cosmic body ever visited by a space probe, which orbits somewhere in the Kuiper Belt, about a 1.6 billion kilometres beyond Pluto, was surveyed by the NASA spaceship New Horizons in January, with images showing it consisted of two spheres stuck together in the shape of a snowman.

Its technical designation is 2014 MU69, but the NASA team nicknamed it “Ultima Thule” after a mythical northern land in classical and medieval European literature.

But then it began: the name sparked an angry reaction as it was co-opted by far-right German occultists in the early 20th century as the fabled ancestral home of “Aryan” people.

NASA has apologized: “Not enough due diligence was done in naming cosmic body Ultima Thule”.

The icy rock has now been renamed “Arrokoth”, a Native American word for ‘sky’.

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