The International Astronomical Union and Minor Planets Center, the global body for naming Kuiper Belt objects, has finally given a name for the most distant world ever explored by a space mission. It is called Arrokoth.
The Kuiper Belt has thousands of similar icy bodies. It is known as the third zone of the solar system, after the zone hosting the gas planets in our solar system.
Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft flew by the snowman figured ice mass in December 2018, some 1.6 billion kilometres beyond Pluto. At that point it was provisionally called Ultima Thule. “NASA’s New Horizons mission has broken all records of space exploration by exploring deep space objects beyond Pluto, such as Ultima Thule,” reported Down To Earth on January 1, 2019.
The New Horizons team of NASA proposed the name to the International Astronomical Union and Minor Planets Center. On November 12, the Union formally declared its acceptance. For any parents, naming is a well thought and emotional out exercise with loads of hopes and admiration. For the New Horizons team it took some months to finalise this name. In the language of the Powhatan tribe, Arrokoth means “sky”. The team got the approval from the elders of the Powhatan tribe to assign it to their new found “baby”.
“The name ‘Arrokoth’ reflects the inspiration of looking to the skies and wondering about the stars and worlds beyond our own,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado in a presser from Nasa.
Nasa launched the New Horizons mission in January 2006. After crossing by Pluto in 2015, in 2019 it flew by Arrokoth. This remains the “farthest flyby ever conducted.”