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That Asteroid has a Name!

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That Asteroid has a Name!

In 2016, NASA will launch a spacecraft that will return the largest sample of an extraterrestrial object since the lunar missions ended over 35 years ago. The target of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission will be a primitive asteroid with the assigned designation (101955) 1999 RQ36. Believing the asteroid deserved a more memorable name, the OSIRIS-REx team, led by the University of Arizona, partnered with The Planetary Society and MIT Lincoln Laboratory (discoverers of the asteroid) to sponsor a contest to rename the asteroid. Over 8,000 students from over twenty-five countries around the world entered the Name that Asteroid! contest. The International Astronomical Union approved the name, Bennu, this month.

Judges enjoyed reading through the imaginative and informative entries. Dante Lauretta, Principal Investigator of the OSIRIS-REx mission and one of the judges said, “There were many excellent entries that would be a fitting name and provide us an opportunity to educate the world about the exciting nature of our mission.” Despite all the excellent choices, the judges had to narrow it to one, and now, the asteroid formerly known as (101955) 1999 RQ36 has its new official name — (101955) Bennu (pronounced ben-oo).

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Edited by Waspie_Dwarf

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