Sat. Oct 1st, 2022

In what might take the title of low-hanging fruit of the year, someone recently asked Twitter users to come up with a new name for a probe headed for Uranus, and, well, what happened next won’t shock anyone — but it’s funny.

Before we get to the enthusiastic and viral reactions, let’s back up for a moment.

Explore IGO is a Twitter fan account dedicated to praising the ice giant planets of our solar system, namely Neptune and Uranus. The account often posts pictures and memes about the two planets, and their pinned tweet is a plea to the space community to send missions to the icy masses in the name of research.

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It should be noted that there are currently no Uranus probes planned, but NASA scientists voted last year to make the blue planet NASA’s top priority for the next decade by developing a mission to Uranus, with a spacecraft that could include an orbiter and a probe.

Which brings us to the tweet in question.

Last Saturday ExploreIGO asked its community “what would YOU call the #Uranus Orbiter & Probe Mission?”

We all know what comes next…

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How about a Planetary Orbital Observation Probe? AKA POOP,” suggested one respondent. “The start of the Uranus mission… An incredible spectacle in space,” offered another.

In all, the original post received thousands of suggestions – some silly, but some actually very thoughtful and based on science or mythology. You know, names NASA could actually consider.

Many have recommended that the Uranus probe be named Olympus, Odin or even MUSE for the Mission Uranus Science Expedition. Some suggested the names of historical figures in the space community, such as Lassell, Kuiper and Earhart.

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While it might seem immature for the scientific community to joke about the planets they’re investigating, some scientists say it’s actually useful in getting their work out to a wider audience.

“I think it’s good to get involved in your work in any way you can,” University of California astronomy PhD candidate Ned Molter told Futurism last year.

“Do the jokes get really tiresome and repetitive? Absolutely,” added Molter. “I wouldn’t say I’m frustrated at all. A conversation begins.”

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Heidi Hammel, a distinguished astronomer at the Institute for Space Sciences and the Planetary Society and a top expert on Neptune and Uranus, told the paper that NASA is quite sensitive about the word “probe” and how it relates to Uranus.

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“I’m really worried that it’s going to make it harder to actually get a mission to study this planet because I think NASA would be sensitive to these headlines and sensitive to all the ridicule they’d get if they wanted to get a mission to this planet,” she said.

“We want to send atmospheric probes, and we call them probes, and it’s impossible to separate that from the whole thing about aliens exploring humans… Maybe we just go to Neptune so we don’t have to worry about the whole thing. .”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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