The Planetary Society recieved more than 8000 entries to name the asteroid 1999 RQ36, which will be visited by NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The judging panel selected 39 semifinalists, then winnowed that group down to 6 finalists. They ranged in age from 5 to 17 (some of them are now 18) and represent 7 countries: USA, Brazil, France, India, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. We asked each of them what they would like to see next in space exploration.
Nicholas Hobbs, age 15, United States
Proposed name: Nabu
Justification for the name: "In Mesopotamian mythology, Nabu is the god of wisdom and was one of the most important gods to the Assyrians. To me it seems fitting to name this asteroid after such an important god of wisdom, as this asteroid will further our understanding of how the solar system formed and, quite possibly, how life originated on Earth. 1999 RQ36 is going to expand our knowledge and understanding of how the universe works, so shouldn’t its name reflect the impact it will have on humanity? The deity Nabu was important to the Assyrians, so I think the asteroid Nabu should be important to us."
What do you want to see next in space? "The first thing I think we should do to improve space exploration in the future is improve funding to NASA programs. That would allow for not only and increase in the quantity of missions, but also an increase in quality. In addition to a manned mission to Mars, which would generate interest in astronomy on a scale comparable to the Apollo missions, we need to invest in more unmanned missions. Particularly, sending a probe to Europa to explore its subsurface oceans or to Io to study its active, volcanic surface would be very revealing."
Felipe Marques Couto, age 16, Brazil
Proposed name: Muninn
Justification for the name: "Muninn is the ancient Norse word for “memory”. Muninn and Huginn are the Odin's ravens. They’re the messengers of the gods, whose task was to fly over the planet Earth, collecting news and information, bringing knowledge to their sender. The OSIRIS-REx objectives are nothing but the Muninn’s one: the seek of knowledge, no matter how hard it is to achieve."
What do you want to see next in space? "In the future I'd like to see the exploration of Mars, by sending a manned mission to there."
Michael Puzio, age 9, United States
Proposed name: Bennu
Justification for the name: "Bennu was a large heron and the living symbol of Osiris. The winged OSIRIS-REx and its heron-like TAGSAM also evoke attributes of Bennu, as does the egg shape of the asteroid itself. Bennu means 'The Ascending One', 'to shine' and suits the NEO which will shine in our skies in 2023 at the return of OSIRIS-REx."
What do you want to see next in space? "Fly a million more missions, to go to other galaxies, and to send astronauts to Mars!!"
Dhaamin Siddeeq, age 12, United States
Proposed name: Chronos
Justification for the name: "If I could have the opportunity to name an asteroid I would name it Chronos. I would name it Chronos because he is the mythological greek god of space. Chronos is related to this assignment because he was the leader of space. The asteroid's name would fit it perfectly because what better name than the person who watched over space? Chronos was the first generation of the gods and was claimed to be the ultimate creator of the cosmos. He is also known as the master of time in greek mythology."
What do you want to see next in space? "The next step in space exploration that I would like to see is astronauts going beyond the Moon. It would be cool to see who the first man on Mars would be instead of the Rovers. The interesting details on that mission would be exciting to learn about. Maybe I would be that man."
Shreya Venkatesh, age 13, United States
Proposed name: Ragnarok
Justification for the name: "Ragnarok is a series of future events in Norse mythology that suggests the destruction and rebirth of the universe. A godly battle takes place, natural disasters occur, and the world is submerged, after which it will emerge renewed with fertile lands. This is an ideal name for asteroid 1999 RQ36 because its orbit is very close to that of the Earth’s and has a very high impact probability, which relates to the natural disasters taking place during Ragnarök. However, this carbonaceous asteroid is also very rich in organic materials, relating to the re-surfacing and replenishing of the world in Ragnarök. Ragnarök is both a destructive and life-giving event and is a suitable name for this asteroid; it may be potentially destructive by impacting the Earth, but it also is an Earth-like remnant from the early Solar System and can help us better understand the origin of life on Earth."
What do you want to see next in space? "Space exploration fascinates me, and I would like to see if Mars has water, and if so, I would like to know if it was inhabited in the past. It would also be amazing if NASA or any other space-exploring organization finds out more about the other galaxies around us, and if there are other biological forms outside or inside of our galaxy. I would like to see if space explorers can find out more about black holes, and what happens inside a black hole as well. Space exploration, in my opinion, should take a second giant leap for mankind!"
Gavin Wills, age 9, United States
Proposed name: Polymatheia
Justification for the name: "Polymatheia in Greek mythology is a muse of knowledge. Polymatheia is an appropriate name because NASA wants to travel to the asteroid and back to gain knowledge of near-Earth objects."
What do you want to see next in space? "I want to see a person take the first steps on Mars. I want to see exploration of resources in space that can be used to provide support for a human colony on the Moon and beyond."
Anshul Anand, age 18, India
Proposed name: Nirrti
Justification for the name: "Nirrti is the hindu goddess of death and corruption.She is also black like (101955) 1999 RQ36 which is dark due to carbonaceous content. Nirrti is described as dark, dressed in dark clothes and her sacrificial shares are dark husks. (101955) 1999 RQ36 is potentially the most hazardous asteroid to earth and nirrti is also related to death and destruction."
What do you want to see next in space? "I would love to see work done on potential sources of alternative energy which are available in space."
Matthew Bartlett, age 16, United States
Proposed name: Erebus
Justification for the name: "I believe asteroid 1999 RQ36 should be named Erebus because of what its god counterpart represented to the ancient Greeks. First of all, Erebus is the god of darkness and shadows; this fits in with 1999 RQ36 because it has a low albedo from 0.03 to 0.06. Also, according to Greek mythology, Erebus was a fundamental deity existing during the beginning of the universe. This is analogous to 1999 RQ36 because, as an asteroid, it was a witness to the earliest days of our solar system. That is one of the reasons the OSIRIS-REx mission is going to investigate it and return samples to Earth. Indeed, Erebus is a name that perfectly represents asteroid 1999 RQ36."
What do you want to see next in space? "Space exploration is a large category for someone to consider, so I would like to single out specific types in detail. I would like to see initiatives in manned space exploration, such as the lunar colony proposed by the Constellation Program, or a mission to Mars, like that being planned by MarsOne, which would be great steps for reaching toward the stars. However, in the more abstract definition of space exploration, being around to see groundbreaking discoveries about the universe, like having Kepler find a nearly perfect Earth-analog extrasolar planet, would be a thrilling experience. Overall, I appreciate simply living in a time when previously unthinkable initiatives in space exploration are currently in progress."
Claire Bonneville, age 17, France
Proposed name: Sucellos
Justification for the name: "He was worshiped in the ancient Celtic religion. His names means "the good striker". He can kill or resurrect by striking his mallet, as the asteroide could kill by striking the Earth or bring some organic matter, or at least interesting new materials, like the bodies from the outer main asteroid belt millions of years ago which carried organics and water to the young Earth. (101955) 1999 RQ36 can whether be an object of destruction or creation."
What do you want to see next in space? "I'm very fond of astrophysics, so probably more and more powerful telescopes allowing more precise informations about stellar cycles. I'm especially interested in the stars' ends (with implosions ending up in neutron stars or black holes)."
MaryAnn Bulawa, age 17, United States
Proposed name: Kal-El
Justification for the name: "The asteroid that NASA scientists, researchers, and engineers are planning to analyze should have a name that represents the importance and meaning of its mission, but will also excite and engage people to follow its exploration. Kal-El should be that name. Kal-El is the name given to the mythical Superman/Clark Kent by his Kryptonian parents. Like the asteroid, Kal-El appears to be unremarkable on the outside, but after analyzing and understanding its nature it reveals something that is truly remarkable. The asteroid holds many secrets and mysteries just like Kal-El. Kal-El is a person who others look up to. He believes that everyone has unlimited potential and can achieve greatness. Kids and adults will be excited when they learn NASA is sending a mission to Kal-El. They will want to follow the exploration of Kal-El and learn about the many scientific secrets it holds."
What do you want to see next in space? "I want to see human exploration of the Moon, Mars, or an asteroid. I want the next person to step on another world to be a woman!!!!"
The photo shows her with astronaut Alan Bean.
Michael Burke, age 11, United States
Proposed name: Huitzilopochtli
Justification for the name: "I think that Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war and the sun, would be a good name for the asteroid. My first reason for naming the asteroid this is because Huitzilopochtli is an old god, and was there when the universe was being formed. The asteroid also is very old, being made of parts of rock when the universe was made. If we have the right technology, we can take parts of the asteroid and study it to find out more about how the universe formed. Another reason is because Huitzilopochtli is the god of war. NASA has been doing research, and has found out that in 2182, this asteroid might crash into earth, causing damage which is destructive like war. The last reason is that Huitzilopochtli is also one of the most important gods. The asteroid, even though it is very small, might hit the earth and cause damage, so it is very important."
What do you want to see next in space? "I want to see more research regarding black holes."
Antongiulio Chiarella, age 14, Italy
Proposed name: Tefnut
Justification for the name: "I was inspired by egyptian mythology because of the OSIRIS-REx mission. Tefnut was one of the original deities (one of the Ennead). She was the goddess of moisture, humidity and water. Her name itself is related to water, tf is the root of the words for 'moist'. Her name translates to something like 'She of Moisture'. The people believed that without her water, Egypt could dry and burn in the sun. This is related to the fact that many asteroids like 1999 RQ36 collided with the young planets bringing organics and possibly water to them. And water is life. Tefnut is represented as a woman lying between Nut (goddes of the sky) and Geb (god of earth). Please see picture:
So I image water coming from something between deep sky of universe and earth (so coming from asteroids) to bring life on Earth. Hope it makes sense, sorry for my english! Bye"
What do you want to see next in space? "I'd like to know more about origin of the universe. Maybe with space exploration some clues about origin of the universe can be discovered."
Michael Darok, age 15, United States
Proposed name: Aethon
Justification for the name: "Aethon, according to the Greek poet Ovid, was one of the four horses that pulled Helios’s chariot. This name is quite fitting for this near-Earth object, which takes only 436 days to complete a full revolution around the sun. Mythology speaks of a lush pasture known as the Island of the Blessed, where all of Helios’s horses would rest. Seeing as (101955) 1999 RQ36 is carbon-rich, with the potential secrets of our solar system’s formation locked underneath its dusty surface, this can be considered to be a modern-day Island of the Blessed, wherein the effort of many scientists would lead to our nourished knowledge of our own solar system. In addition, seeing as Aethon drove Helios’s chariot into Earth, one final connection can be made. This asteroid is considered to be the most threatening to life here on Earth, with a 1 in 1800 chance of striking Earth during the twenty-second century."
What do you want to see next in space? To be honest, I don't know what to expect in the future of Space Exploration. It's such a vast, immeasurable thing to, well, measure! After recently finishing Neil DeGrasse Tyson's book "The Pluto Files," I'm pretty excited to see the outcome of the New Horizons mission destined for Pluto in mid-2015. Beyond that, though, who knows what opportunities for discovery we will be given!
Carson Decker, age 16, United States
Proposed name: Alviss
Justification for the name: "The asteroid should be named Alviss because of multiple reasons. It is a mythological reference to a Norse dwarf who was all wise and this asteroid will expand our knowledge on asteroids and increase our wisdom of the asteroids' possible role in forming our planet. He's also turned to stone in mythology and the asteroid is a large chunk of rock. Alviss also sounds like a great asteroid name. It's from Norse mythology which would be a great addition among all the Greek and Roman mythological names for celestial bodies up there to have more variety and just something from somewhere else to represent all the world's cultures' different beliefs and stories. It's also a small object in terms of the size things in space get and Alviss was a dwarf. He also crafted weapons as gifts for the gods and it's believed 1999RQ36 is rich in the building block substances that allowed life to exist."
What do you want to see next in space? "Colony on Mars."
Estes Park Middle School Galaxy Gazers Astronomy Club, United States
Proposed name: Dagda
Justification for the name: "Dagda is the Celtic (Irish) god of the Earth, death and regeneration. He is also known as the "Good God" and "Lord of the Heavens". We chose this name because the Osiris Rex mission's objective is to investigate the origin of life on our planet and planet formation. Dagda had a club which could kill with one end but could bring back life with the other end. Dagda is like Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead and resurrection to eternal life, because they both connect life with death. Dagda is a warrior who dresses in a brown tunic, hooded cape and leather boots. This dull dress reelects the dull luster of carbon."
What do you want to see next in space? Sebastian Mohr: "What I want to see next in space exploration is discovering the mineral compositions in asteroids, because it would step us towards mining the asteroids and potentially obtaining rare minerals."
Azelan Amundson: "The next thing I would like to see in space exploration is missions to other moons of Jupiter and/or Saturn that we have not already done."
Sophie Greenway: "Try to find life in other places in space."
Camdyn Arnold: "We should explore inside the Sun."
Anna Greenway: "I would like to learn more about the stars."
Jayson Scott: "I would like to know if there is life on another planet."
Carys Evans, age 5, United States
Proposed name: Mondfee
Justification for the name: "(When I, mom, explained to Carys that it is recommended to pick a mythological name, she said...) 'I want to pick a fairy name and I want it to start with the letter M!' After helping her to google some fairy names, she insisted that Mondfee, German for "moon fairy" was the perfect name because (to quote her) "an asteroid must look a lot like the moon!" She recently had her first science lesson, during which she learned that science is all about asking questions and making observations. When I asked if she would like to enter a contest to name an asteroid, she said she would love to but that first she would need to write questions in her journal for me to help her answer. She asked "Wot dos it do?" "War dos it com from?" "War dos it go?" "Wot do they call it?" "Dos it do cool chrecs (tricks)?" and other questions. She is an explorer at heart for sure."
What do you want to see next in space? Carys says she would like us to send a space ship out to explore Pluto because it is a dwarf planet and she likes how small it is, and she says just because "they" don't believe there is life on Pluto doesn't mean it's true, because anything is possible.
Daniel Fischer, age 17, United States
Proposed name: Kali
Justification for the name: "Kali is the Hindi god of time and change, and occasionally, death; as an asteroid of potential threat, time represents the ever present threat of the unknown and potential change to Earth that an asteroid such as Kali represents, with the small similarity of 'death' representing an unlikely impact event. Furthermore, this pays homage to Arthur C. Clarke's novel "The Hammer of God", in which an asteroid of potential impact (which, of course turns out to be on a collision course, it is science fiction) is named Kali, for the same reasons."
What do you want to see next in space? "Perhaps the best thing that could happen is a breakthrough in manufacturing techniques of carbon nanotube, required for the realization of a space elevator. Current technology is limited to centimeters in length, while thousands of kilometers (ideally made without nano-scale defects) are required. With the successful creation of a space elevator, suddenly space becomes extremely accessible, open to private corporations and individuals for far less cost and risk than rocket technology."
Jared Freed, age 13, United States
Proposed name: Haldor
Justification for the name: "In Nordic mythology, it translates to Thor's Rock. In mythology, Thor is supposed to come down to Earth, and get rid of evil. According to the Sentry Risk Table, it shows that it has a collision threat to Earth. The asteroid would be moving the same way that Thor would towards Earth. If collision occurs, it would surely end all evil, but it would end all good too."
What do you want to see next in space? "I would like to see more thorough research done with Black Holes, White Holes, and Wormholes. Although they are an unexplained phenomena, I feel that if we dig deep enough, we can find the key to many important scientific discoveries."
Claire Going, age 16, United States
Proposed name: Khepri
Justification for the name: "I chose the name Khepri from the Egyptian god of death, creation, and rebirth for the asteroid, 1999 RQ36, because asteroids are the natural proponents of these forces. In the collision between asteroids and other bodies, they are destroyed, but the fragments of these broken remains come together to form and create new foundations. In these cosmic collisions, asteroids can also provide water to barren planets, providing the chance for life. The violent past of our planet and asteroids also provided us the moon we see today, which without life and evolution would be very different. Khepri symbolizes the inevitable cycle that is life and death, creation and destruction, a cycle that these cosmic entities help drive."
What do you want to see next in space? "One of the most profound questions we can ask ourselves is 'Are we alone in the universe?' As long as we've been gazing up at the stars we've been wondering what lay beyond our planet, which teems with life as diverse as we can imagine. Although the probability of finding life in our own solar system is slight, the implications of finding even the most primitive of life forms would be immeasurable. That is why I would propose a space voyage to Saturn's moon Titan. Even if we didn't find any traces of life, we could gain insight into how life was formed on our own planet, and how life might form in an environment different from our own. Titan is one of the only bodies in the solar system other than Earth that has a fully developed atmosphere comparable to the Earth's. Its atmosphere is chemically active and rich in organic compounds such as hydrogen, and the planet's surface is covered in lakes, rivers, and seas of liquid ethane and liquid methane. Recent evidence from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have even caused some scientists to suggest there may be sub-surface oceans consisting of water. If we sent a more advanced probe to Titan with the mission of exploring the possibility of life, we could learn much about this promising moon."
Shachar Gottlieb, age 9, United States
Proposed name: Apis
Justification for the name: "Apis is adequate for the following reasons: 1. Apis is a sacred bull in the Egyptian mythology. Apis was later believed to be the incarnation of Osiris - the same name as NASA space mission approaching it. 2. Apis is typically described as black, a color typically associated with carbon - the main reason for selecting 1999 RQ36 - a carbonaceous asteroids. 3. Has a nice sound and is easy to pronounce."
What do you want to see next in space?
Logan Grutchfield, age 14, United States
Proposed name: Aether
Justification for the name: "I think we should name the asteroid Aether because Aether is the Greek god of the sky. Since Aether is the god of everything above our atmosphere, and since 1999 RQ36 is above said atmosphere we should name it Aether."
What do you want to see next in space?
Arianna Hull, age 12, United States
Proposed name: Keku
Justification for the name: "Keku is the Egyptian god of night. This name fits this asteroid because Keku is the Egyptian god of night. This name fits this asteroid because both the god and the asteroid bring something to Earth. The asteroid might bring carbon and natural resources to Earth and Keku brings darkness to earth. In myths, Keku was one of eight gods in a group. Keku appeared as man with a head of a frog or a woman with a head of a snake, or as a full frog or snake. Keku is also the oldest Egyptian god. This is similar to the asteroid because it is also very old. Its age ranges from 4.5 billion to 4.6 billion years old. With Keku's wife, Kauket, they create twilight. Keku is also the god of chaos. Both the asteroid and Keku can create chaos. If the asteroid hits Earth, it could cause a lot of chaos and damage. That is why I think you should name the asteroid Keku."
What do you want to see next in space? "I want to see a person take the first steps on Mars."
Sofia Laycock, age 12, Netherlands
Proposed name: Geb
Justification for the name: "Geb is the Father of the Egyptian God Osiris. The asteroid was also the reason the spacecraft Osiris was built. Geb was also the god of crops and I have read that scientists think that the asteroid has organic chemicals."
What do you want to see next in space? "The next thing I would like to see in space exploration is an astronaut land on Mars to see if there is a possibility that humans could live on the planet in case there is a problem with the Earth in hundreds or thousands of years to come."
Pandora Lowe, age 9, United States
Proposed name: Voldemort
Justification for the name: "Lord Voldemort was powerful and deadly. The Asteroid could also be deadly. With Lord Voldemort people thought he couldn't hurt them, and others knew he could. The Asteroid could pass by or hit the Earth. I think Voldemort is a good name for a deadly Asteroid."
What do you want to see next in space? "To find another planet to visit or live on."
Renuka M., age 14, United States
Proposed name: Narada
Justification for the name: "Narada, in Indian mythology is a sage who had the ability to travel between planets and communicate the observations of his travels to the Gods and the inhabitants of the Earth. Similarly, Asteroid(101955) 1999 RQ36 could be the asteroid which brought carbonaceous compounds and seeded life on Earth, just like Narada who brought information. However sometimes the information Narada communicated led to trouble and disputes like the asteroid's 1 in 1800 chances of colliding with Earth in the year 2182. Further, similar to the asteroid which hasn't changed much after the Solar System's origin, Narada too doesn't show the effects of aging."
What do you want to see next in space?
Brynn Metcalf, age 9, United States
Proposed name: Nefertem
Justification for the name: "Nefertem represented the first sunlight and the lotus flower in Egyptian mythology. The ancient Egyptians often carried small statuettes of him as good-luck charms. We will need some good luck to make sure this asteroid doesn't crash into Earth in 2182."
What do you want to see next in space? When we talked at dinner about what we wanted to see next in space exploration she had three ideas. She is very interested in the storms on Jupiter, so we talked about it quite a bit - wanting to explore deeper into the layers of gas there... We also talked about how there hasn't ever been a woman on the Moon. (she couldn't understand why!) and we talked a lot about sending landers and rovers to the surface of Venus, and how that was so difficult but might give us good information about the greenhouse effect etc....
Lana Nguyen, age 13, United States
Proposed name: Aether
Justification for the name: "The asteroid should be named this because of it's symbolism to the god, Aether. In Greek mythology, Aether is the god that embodies the upper earth; the skies where the gods live. He also represents light, which is the direct translation in Greek. The way I see it, this sky is always out there, yet out of our reach since we are mere mortals. This could relate to the fact of how this asteroid has always been orbiting around earth, remaining as a future threat, yet out of our reach and beyond our knowledge. Throughout time, humans have constantly tried to surpass our mortal limits and achieve godhood; This in a sense is how we are trying to retrieve this asteroid from the mysterious world of space. Aether represents light, and by retrieving this asteroid we are hoping to gain intelligence and knowledge that is not known by us; we are hoping that it will "shed some light on us"."
What do you want to see next in space? "Last year I learned a lot about possible planets with the Goldilocks Zone, so I'd be really interested to find out about more planets which housed the possibility for life. It would be amazing if we could find evidence of life in planets other than Earth."
Kendall Oliver, age 13, United States
Proposed name: Adroa
Justification for the name: "Adroa; an African God of two halves. That is what I believe the 1999 RQ36 Asteroid should be named. Adroa was half good, and half evil. Much like the asteroid, 1999 RQ36, which has one of the highest impact probabilities in the next few hundred years of any known asteroid, yet may hold clues to how life started on Earth. Adroa is said to be the Creator of Earth. The asteroid is a B-Type, meaning it is rich in elements and is similar to the asteroids that may have brought seeds of life to early Earth. The African God is surprisingly similar to the asteroid in many respects. That’s why I believe that the name Adroa is the perfect fit for the asteroid."
What do you want to see next in space?
Brianna Robertson, age 17, United States
Proposed name: Thoth
Justification for the name: "Thoth is the Egyptian messenger of the gods, as well as the god of wisdom, and had great power that rivaled that of Ra and Osiris. He's said to be the inventor of astronomy, astrology, mathematics, geometry, and several other things. I think this would be fitting, because we should learn a great deal from the asteroid. The asteroid is also powerful, in terms of the damage it could cause if it hit anything."
What do you want to see next in space? "Last year I did an honors project for Chemistry. The prompt was that I was a scientist looking for liquid water in the solar system, and I had to choose from a list of planets and moons that were most likely to harbor liquid water. I had to pitch my mission to a group of investors, and explain not only why they should back my mission, but explain why the other planets and moons were not good candidates. After some quick research, I thought Enceladus was perfect, but it wasn't on the list. I got permission from my teacher to pitch Enceladus, and it was easily the most fascinating learning experience I had all year."
Nick Rosas, age 13, United States
Proposed name: Khepri
Justification for the name: "Asteroid 1999 RQ36 should be named after the ancient Egyptian god of creation, Khepri. The mission planners of the OSIRIS-Rex sample return mission targeted 1999 RQ63 because it is a carbonaceous asteroid, and may contain chemicals that are essential to life on Earth. In Egyptian mythology, Khepri was the original aspect of Ra, the Sun God, who created himself from sheer willpower and gave birth to life on Earth. I believe this name perfectly embodies one of the goals of OSIRIS-Rex: to find out the origin of life on Earth in the chaos of the early solar system. Due to its uncomfortably close orbit to Earth, 1999 RQ36 is potentially a grave threat to mankind, and that Khepri, if he had the power to create life, must have also had the power to destroy it. 1999 RQ36 contains the potential to both seed life and end it, making Khepri a perfect choice for its name."
What do you want to see next in space? "What I would most like to see in space exploration is the development of NASA's Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft. I'm excited to see manned exploration of space beyond Earth orbit for the first time in forty years!"
Jaden Selin, age 12, United States
Proposed name: Asterion
Justification for the name: "I think that this asteroid should be named Asterion because the word means ruler of stars. Asterion was a very powerful Minotaur. This name also sounds just like asteroid so it comes into your mind whenever you think about Asterion. The Minotaur lies deep in the middle of a maze just like an asteroid floating in space. Thank you for reading and I hope you choose Asterion."
What do you want to see next in space? I would like to see astronauts living on Mars. This would be a marvelous advance in space exploration. I would also like to see astronomers find a planet with life forms on it because we might be able to communicate with them. That would be awesome!
Sweta Sheth, age 14, United States
Proposed name: Nataraj
Justification for the name: "1999 RQ36 is one of the most dangerous asteroids out there for humans. Studies have shown that this unpredictable asteroid has a chance of impacting the Earth in the year 2182. However, scientists also think that organic material and water on the asteroid may have been the reason for life on Earth. In a way, this special asteroid is both good and bad - both creation and destruction. This is the reason for why I have chosen to name the asteroid Nataraj. Nataraj is the dancing form of Lord Shiva, an important and powerful god in Hinduism. He has five important works and two of those are creation and destruction. Also, His dancing form, Nataraj, does a special dance called Anandatandava which symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction This is why I believe that the name Nataraj is the perfect name for this unique asteroid."
What do you want to see next in space? "Next in space exploration, I want to see if there are any new discoveries on Mars that indicate that it might be able to sustain life."
Andrew Silverstein, age 14, United States
Proposed name: Kauket
Justification for the name: "I think 1999 RQ36 should be named after the Egyptian god Kauket. I think this would be fitting since 1999 RQ36 is very dark, and Kauket is the Eygptian god of darkness. Since darkness comes before light, Kauket was also viewed as a bringer of light, which is cool if you think of knowledge as light, with ORISIS-REx bringing us knowledge."
What do you want to see next in space? "There are several things I would like to see happen in near-future space exploration. One of those is to have humans land on and eventually colonize Mars. On Mars, there are useful resources which are rare on Earth, and may have clues to the two greatest scientific and philosophical questions of all time: 'How were we created?' and 'Are we alone?' Also in an attempt to answer these questions, I would like to see probes being sent to the Jovian moon Europa and the Saturnian moon Enceladus. Both of these places are possible homes for extraterrestrial life."
Bailey Strenn, age 17, United States
Proposed name: Sacagawea
Justification for the name: "The asteroid should be named Sacagawea because it is guiding our highly trained scientist further into understanding our vast solar system just as Sacagawea led Lewis and Clark, two brilliant explorers, on their journey."
What do you want to see next in space? "I want to see evidence of life on another planet."
Tenkill Middle School TEP 6C, United States
Proposed name: Arion
Justification for the name: "Asteroid 1999 RQ36 should be named Arion. Arion was a magical horse from ancient Greek mythology. Legend said that Arion was a beautiful stallion that roamed around and did whatever it wanted. Arion was completely free from anyone’s control. This is one reason the name Arion fits the asteroid. The asteroid flies around space and is controlled by nothing except the gravitational pull of the sun, but can go basically anywhere inside those guide lines. However, once a mortal rides Arion, (it was thought to be impossible for any mortal to ride him) he became completely loyal to them. Once mankind first takes samples from the asteroid, the asteroid will become almost “loyal” to us. For example, one sample rock may unlock untold mysteries of the universe for us. In conclusion, I believe that Arion is the best name for asteroid 1999 RQ36."
What do you want to see next in space? "We believe that all species of life on Earth would benefit if space exploration were to focus on the discovering other habitable planets. The discovery of such planets could provide us with alternatives for our current nonrenewable resources such as fossil fuels, petroleum, natural gasses, and nuclear energy. A planet other than Earth could also potentially provide us with elements that could be used as cures for diseases like cancer. Lastly, these other planets could be perhaps be used as a refuge if anything were to happen which would leave Earth uninhabitable. In conclusion, we believe that the next step in space exploration should be to find another planet similar to earth that could provide us with what we need to not only survive but to thrive as well."
Tunahan Topuz, age 17, Turkey
Proposed name: Antioch
Justification for the name: "'Antioch' was an ancient city on the easter side of the Orantes River in Anatolia. 'Antioch' the place where Christian,Jewish,Muslim,Syriac and many other people belonging to different religions live in peace for centuries, is known as the cradle of the religions. The historic story of the city is an important factor in the origin of this peaceful atmosphere. This place, where The azan sounds mix with churc bells is an ascription to the humanity. 'Antioch' means brotherhood, therefore it would be a very meaningful message to send greetings to the earth and humans with the name 'Antioch' from far away, from the deepest part of the space."
Billie Weddell, age 12, United States
Proposed name: Inyan
Justification for the name: "I want the asteroid to be named Inyan (In Yawn) because in Lakota Mythology Inyan means "rock." Inyan was the first of the superior gods. He existed before the beginning. Inyan was a rock associated with the natural forces of the Earth. I feel this is a true definition of this asteroid. I am a Lakota Native American from Lower Brule, South Dakota, abd I would be greatly honored if you would name the asteroid Inyan."
What do you want to see next in space? "What's next in space? Probably more investigation such as more objects in outer space being observed. Also, more evidence will be found on Mars. I'm sure there is lots that will happen in outer space in the next few years."
Sarah Weiss, age 12, United States
Proposed name: Rama
Justification for the name: "I think we should call the asteroid Rama, after a hero in Indian mythology. Although in Arthur C. Clarke's science fiction novel, Rendevous with Rama, it's an alien spacecraft mistaken for an asteroid. In dedication to the hero and the novel, Rama would be the perfect name."
What do you want to see next in space? "I would like to see a mission like Voyager 1 and 2 (Voyager 3) because we have more sophisticated technology now than in 1977."
Anna Wilson, age 14, United States
Proposed name: Xipe Totec
Justification for the name: "Discovered in September of 1999, RQ36 needs a name. The verdict is out, and now thousands of kids will be entering names they think are best for the asteroid, Ranging from Native American Mythology to Mesopotamian mythology, many names have been taken, and many are still available. The name I think is best for the asteroid 1999 RQ36 comes from Aztec mythology, which is Xipe Totec. The name is inspired by Osiris-REx, the satellite. Osiris was the Egyptian god of earth, vegetation, death, and rebirth. Xipe Totec is the Aztec god of life, death, rebirth, and agriculture. When Greece declined, and Rome came into power, they kept many of the Greek gods, but called them by different names. When Osiris-REx goes out to explore 1999 RQ36, it would represent the change of the Egyptian god Osiris, to the Aztec god Xipe Totec."
What do you want to see next in space? "Personally, I would like to see leaps and bounds toward the human exploration of Mars. Mars has always captured the attention of humans, and being the only other planet in the habitable zone, it provides opportunities to find fossilized remnants of life at the very least. For as long as humans have known what Mars is, they have explored opportunities in fictional texts and in robotic probes like the Curiosity, but never have we ventured so far as to send a human to another planet. I have the utmost faith I will see a human to Mars in my lifetime, but would absolutely love to see it soon. I know we are making discoveries that will aid our journey, and although we cannot visit places, Mars and beyond, we will soon, and I cannot wait."