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Controversy over "Ultima Thule": NASA renames celestial bodies because of Nazi controversy


Astronomers had christened "Ultima Thule" a billion miles away from Earth. But the term was once abused by Nazis.

The US space agency Nasa officially gave the name "Arrokoth" to a celestial body some 6.5 billion kilometers from Earth. The name means "heaven" in the language of the Algonquin- and Powhatan Indians, Nasa wrote on their website.

The "New Horizons" probe had flown past the object in the Kuiper belt earlier this year - it was the farthest from Earth to date that a probe had met a celestial body. Transitionally, the scientists had called the celestial body "Ultima Thule".


This is what the photograph of the "Arrokoth" probe looks like: because the celestial body is made up of two parts and ice, it is also called the snowman

US media criticized that the term "Thule" is used by pioneers of National Socialism in Germany and right-wing groups in the United States. One example is the anti-Semitic Thule Society, which was founded in Munich in 1918 and became a pioneer of the National Socialist movement.

Thousands of "little ice worlds"

The head of the Nasa mission, Alan Stern, emphasized that the term was much older than the Nazi ideology. In mythology, "Thule" stands for a faraway island in the north. "Just because some evil people once liked that term, we will not allow them to claim it alone," Stern said during a press briefing shortly after "New Horizons" had flown past the celestial body.

New pictures of "Ultima Thule" The strange thing in the depths of space

Since "Ultima Thule" anyway was intended only as an interim name, Nasa called the celestial body now officially "Arrokoth". The name stands for the view of the people in the sky, and for their thoughts on the stars and other worlds, it says in the NASA report.

The probe "New Horizons" was launched in 2006. Her way led them past Jupiter and Pluto, before advancing into the vastness of space four years ago. There are thousands of "little ice worlds" in the Kuiper Belt, according to Nasa.

Source: spiegel

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