Hopefully you weren’t too attached to “2014 MU69,” because the most distant object ever explored has a new name.
The 21-mile-wide (34 kilometers) body visited by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on Jan. 1 is now officially known as Arrokoth, a term that means “sky” in the Powhatan/Algonquian language, mission team members announced today (Nov. 12).
“The name ‘Arrokoth’ reflects the inspiration of looking to the skies and wondering about the stars and worlds beyond our own,” New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado, said in a statement. “That desire to learn is at the heart of the New Horizons mission, and we’re honored to join with the Powhatan community and people of Maryland in this celebration of discovery.”
Like the Powhatan people, New Horizons has strong ties to Maryland and the greater Chesapeake Bay region. The mission is run by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. And New Horizons team members discovered Arrokoth using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which is operated by the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. The scientists also relied heavily on Hubble observations to plan the flybys of both Arrokoth and Pluto.