Help name an asteroid!

In 2016, NASA will launch OSIRIS-REx, an unmanned mission to an astroid called 1999 RQ36. It is, to say the least, not the most inspiringly named object in space. That's why MIT, the University of Arizona, and the Planetary Society are sponsoring a contest to rename it. If you are under age 18—and are capable of the official asteroid naming guidelines—then you can enter the contest! Too old? (Or too incapable of coming up with a non-offensive asteroid name?) Then post your idea here!


    1. Isis might make sense, but was used fairly early on – it is number 42. The article links to a list, which will help you find something that isn’t taken.

  1. Whatever we end up naming it, we’ll eventually have to nuke it from orbit.  It’ll be the only way to be sure.

  2. Well, since it has Q36 in the name, I would suggest “Illudium Q-36 Space Modulator” — “Illudium” for short.  Especially since, as a member of the Apollo asteroid family, it would occasionally block Marvin’s view of Venus.

  3. I was gonna suggest the Planet Krankor, but Bemopolis nailed it.

    (“Prince of Space” is a bad science fiction movie memorable for the amazing performance of the voice over artist who dubbed Ambassador Phantom from the Planet Krankor.)

  4. Now I know how to translate “1999 RQ36” into “916th object observed in the first half of September, 1999”. Thanks Maggie.  Gonna re-wire a database to use this system.

    One question though: The rules state: “The mythological name can come from any culture from any part of the world. In very rare cases, this definition has been stretched to include fictional mythological characters.”

    Aren’t ALL mythological characters fictional?

    1. Aren’t ALL mythological characters fictional?

      Not necessarily. Unicorns might be, but it’s likely that some mythical characters are based on real historical people.

      1. There is a set of ancient people that may have existed for which this would be true, like Jesus or Pythagoras. A lot of people have also tried to tie gods like Odin or Asclepius to historical people, but then we are in pseudohistorical territory.

        Ancient people of importance were very likely to attract at least some mythical stories, like the miraculous birth and divine parentage of Alexander, or the prophecies given to Socrates.

      2. Or a group of them.  Picture a bunch of ancient Greek farmers on a river delta trying to contain flood waters with a dam, but the floods overwhelm and go over left and right of the dam.  In effect, they cut of the head of the water (hydros) and the result was now two heads.

        Now had Hercules to the story and there you have his struggle with the Hydra.

      3. some mythical characters are based on real historical people

        *Abraham Lincoln
        *George Washington
        *Johnny Appleseed (Jonathan Chapman)
        *Wyatt Earp
        *Typhoid Mary (Mary Mallon)
        *Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Canary)

  5. @chenille The article links to a list, which will help you find something that isn’t taken.

    There’s a Sandler… (sigh) seriously JPL, I thought you guys were less lowbrow than that.  What does it orbit, a certain planet beyond Saturn?

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