(ORDO NEWS) — Asking the internet to name a science mission has become something of a tradition, but we think even the bravest might be intimidated by a recent question on Twitter.
An unofficial Twitter account promoting future missions to our solar system. The system’s ice giants, Ice Giant Missions, have asked for suggestions on what to name the probe sent to Uranus.
Given the potential puns that are inevitably associated with Uranus, this is dangerous territory, even beyond the expected “Something McSomethingface.”
This, of course, was one of the most popular answers, but with soil as fertile as Uranus, why whip a dead horse?
Surprisingly, however, anecdotes were in the minority, and many respondents chose to conscientiously ask the question and respond appropriately.
A mission to Uranus is not currently in development, but it is not an impossible dream either. To date, missions have been sent to most of the planets in the solar system.
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have been visited and explored by special probes. Even Jupiter’s moons are on a mission.
On the other hand, ice giants are somewhat neglected. Earlier this year, this prompted a panel of experts from the US National Academy of Sciences to recommend a mission to Uranus in their 10th anniversary report to NASA.
In fact, Uranus is considered so important that a group of his recommendations gave the stinky planet top priority.
“Uranus is one of the most intriguing bodies in the solar system,” the scientists wrote. “Its low internal energy, active atmospheric dynamics and complex magnetic field are all great mysteries.
“The primary giant impact could have caused a strong axial tilt of the planet and possibly its rings and moons, although this is not clear.
The large moons of Uranus covered in icy rock have shown amazing evidence of geological activity in the limited Voyager 2 flyby data and are potential ocean worlds.
This mission concept is currently called the Uranus Orbiter and Probe (UOP), but other solar system missions may have more catchy names.
Mars has (or had) Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity and Perseverance. BepiColombo is currently on its way to Mercury, and Akatsuki (Japanese for “dawn”) is currently orbiting Venus.
Saturn had Cassini-Huygens. Jupiter has a Juno probe named after R. An Omani goddess-queen who married Jupiter. The Voyager probes have left the solar system; It is followed by New Horizons.
There doesn’t seem to be much in common between these missions in terms of names, which means there’s room for creativity in naming the Uranus probe.
Leading contenders include the astronomers who discovered Jupiter (William Herschel) and some of its moons (William Lassell and Gerard Kuiper).
There are also well-known explorers – polar explorer Roland Amundsen, climber Tenzing Norgay or Ipirvik-Takulittuk in honor of the husband and wife of the 19th century Inuks, who served as guides and interpreters for white Arctic explorers.
If we want to deviate from naming the probe after people, a practice that can become fraught, the other options are somewhat more poetic.
There is Caelus, the ancient Roman counterpart of the Greek god Uranus. Or Odin, the Norse god who defeated the frost giants of myth.
The Tempest seems to have been the most popular guess. This is because some of the 27 moons of Uranus are named after Shakespearean characters, with the largest proportion being nine (or 10, if you count Ariel) from The Tempest.
Whatever the name, the mission will reveal more information about one of the most mysterious worlds in the solar system.
How did Uranus flip over on its side and start spinning in the opposite direction of the other planets? Why does it have rings that are not found anywhere else in the solar system?
What are those strange X-rays coming from it? And why is its magnetic field such a mess?
With all these burning questions, one can almost forget what a stupid name the planet has in English.
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