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Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.

New Hills, Old Secrets

Exploring a set of newly named hills on Mars reveals tantalizing clues to the planet's story.

Asteroid Minerva finds its magical weapons in the sky

The International Astronomical Union has chosen the names Aegis and Gorgoneion for the two moons of the asteroid (93) Minerva. We decided to crowd-source the names, catching the attention of the public. Over the following year, I received a lot of emails with suggestions

That Asteroid Has a Name: Bennu!

9-year-old Mike Puzio of North Carolina submitted the winning name for the asteroid target of NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The Planetary Society, MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, and the University of Arizona asked students around the world to suggest names.

We have a winner! The OSIRIS-REx asteroid's name is: Bennu!

We received more than 8000 entries from all over the world in the Name That Asteroid contest, and we can finally announce the winner. The asteroid formerly known as 1999 RQ36 is now formally named (101955) Bennu, for a heron associated with the Egyptian god Osiris.

Place names on Lutetia

Whenever we explore someplace new -- a new island, a new continent, a new cave, a new world -- there's a necessary activity that explorers must perform before they can sensibly tell the world about their discoveries: name things.

Naming X: A contest for kids to name small bodies

A contest has just been announced that appears to create a pathway for schoolchildren to suggest names to the International Astronomical Union for minor planets -- all those small things in the solar system that don't orbit the eight big ones.

New names for Rhea

I learned today from Jason Perry that 42 new crater names have been approved by the International Astronomical Union for Rhea, the second largest of Saturn's moons.

New Mercury Atlas

The United States Geological Survey has just released a new atlas of Mercury, the first to be based upon the three flybys worth of image data gathered by the MESSENGER mission.

New names for Enceladus' features

The IAU has just approved new names for 35 craters, dorsa, fossae, and sulci on the surface of Enceladus, based upon Cassini's high-resolution mapping of the little moon. What are dorsa, fossae, and sulci, you might ask?

Suggestions for names of Pluto's moons

I received quite a number of emails containing suggested names for Pluto's moons -- thanks! I just sent all the suggestions to Alan Stern; here they are for everybody's enjoyment.

Speaking of Pluto...

I just posted today's installment of Planetary Radio, in which Mat Kaplan gets an update on New Horizons from Principal Investigator Alan Stern-- check it out!

Space is vast. There's a lot of exploring to do.

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