The Sciences

The naming of names

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitOct 15, 2011 11:17 AM

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If you don't like the way NASA and astronomers name their missions, then now's your chance. NASA is asking students to help them name the twin GRAIL satellites, currently on their way to the Moon. They want input from K-12 students, and they're hoping this helps motivate kids to be interested in space. They don't have suggestions, but I might urge you to think of either famous twins, of course, or maybe two people who helped explore the Moon, partners in some way (married couples, or two people who worked closely together). I don't think they'll allow the names of people still alive (so Neil and Buzz are out, unfortunately), but I'm guessing someone will come up with something good. The deadline for that is November 11. Not only that, but astronomers want to rename the Very Large Array, a collection of 27 separate 25-meter radio telescopes observing the skies from New Mexico. The array has been operational for decades, but has undergone recent extensive renovations, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory thinks it's appropriate to rename the array in honor of this.

If you've seen the movie "Contact" then you've seen the VLA; it's where The Signal is first heard, the scene where Ellie is listening in using headphones. So I went to the Name The Array webpage and, deciding to keep the same initials, entered "Vega Loves Arroway". You may feel free to submit something better. The deadline for renaming the VLA is midnight Eastern (US) time December 1.


Related posts: - GRAIL on its way to the Moon! - My readers are smart - Black hole erupts in nearby galaxy - My BA review of the movie "Contact"

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