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Contest Rules and Eligibility

The contest is open to students age under 18 as of the contest deadline December 2, 2012. An adult age 18 or over must submit contest entries on behalf of the entrant.  Submissions must be made through the official contest entry form.

Children of employees of The Planetary Society, of MIT Lincoln Laboratory, of the University of Arizona, or of OSIRIS-REx team members, are ineligible to enter.

In order for an entrant to accept the grand prize, parental consent must be given to the Planetary Society, NASA, the University of Arizona, and MIT Lincoln Laboratory to use the name and likeness of the grand prize winner in contest-related communications.

Entry Content

Eligible entries consist of the following information:

  • Proposed name - limited to 16 characters and meeting the naming guidelines
  • Justification paragraph - limited to 900 characters, including spaces
  • First name of child submitter - first name only, please.
  • Name of adult submitter - must be an individual over 18
  • Email address of adult submitter - this address will only be used to confirm the entry and communicate the results of the contest unless the submitter opts to receive other communications
  • Relationship of adult submitter to child contest entrant (parent/guardian or teacher/mentor) - used to determine whether additional parental consent is necessary for child participation
  • Age of contest entrant as of December 2, 2012 (NOTE: Although the contest entry deadline has now been extended to December 31, we are not changing the age requirement. It is still open to anyone who was under 18 as of December 2.)
  • Optionally, entrants are asked to specify their country of residence in order for the Planetary Society to gauge international participation in the contest.
  • Optionally, U.S. entrants are asked to specify the zip code of their residence or school in order to gauge domestic participation in the contest.

We strongly suggest submitters carefully review that each entry complies with the naming guidelines before submitting.


A pre-selection panel will review the initial entries for conformity to the rules.  Depending upon the number of entries received, the pre-selection panel may also perform a first round of selection of entries.

The entries will then be judged by a prize panel composed of staff from MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the University of Arizona, and the Planetary Society, which will select and rank in order the top five recommended entries as finalists.

For any finalists whose entries were not submitted by parents/guardians, the Planetary Society will seek parental consent for participation in the contest.  Parents must respond with consent within one week of notification or the entry will be disqualified.

The top-ranked eligible selection will be submitted to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) for selection.  Depending on the response from IAU, we reserve the right to modify proposed names to satisfy IAU requirements, or to submit the next-ranked entry name, if the top-selected name is rejected.

The grand prize will go to the entrant who submitted the name approved by the IAU (or a name that was slightly modified if needed to comply with IAU requirements).  The other finalists will receive runner-up prizes. In the case of multiple submissions of the winning names, prizes will go to the submission judged to have the best justification paragraph.  The judging panel will consider the age of the contest entrant when comparing justification paragraphs.


The Grand Prize winner will have named a part of the solar system! They will also be invited to participate in a public video or phone conference with OSIRIS-REx mission team members and the discoverer of the asteroid.

Both Grand Prize winner and runners-up will see their names, photos, and submitted justification paragraphs posted on the OSIRIS-REx and Planetary Society websites. They will receive a prize package of materials to hand out at their school that may include OSIRIS-REx mission patches, stickers, and posters; copies of Planetary Report Kids; a model of the asteroid; or other fun mission- and space-related items. (Prize package contents are subject to change.) They will receive one year of membership in The Planetary Society. And they will be invited to participate in a Google+ Hangout On Air with Bill Nye the Science Guy.

The naming contest for the near Earth asteroid currently named (101955) 1999 RQ36 is a partnership of the Planetary Society; MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, the discoverers of (101955) 1999 RQ36; and the University of Arizona, who under principal investigator Dante Lauretta was chosen by NASA to lead the OSIRIS-REx (Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer) asteroid sample return mission.

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