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NASA renames space objects nicknamed ‘insensitive’



Many cosmic objects are known to scientists with unofficial nicknames, but not all of those nicknames are created equal. As it turns out, some are completely offensive.

NASA is working to change that by evaluating nicknames currently in use and making changes to those that are insensitive.

There has recently been a general trend towards incorporating and correcting past mistakes, and NASA is starting operations.

In a statement posted on NASA.gov, the agency explained their reasoning for changing the way these cosmic features are referred to, whose names are problematic:

“As the scientific community works to identify and address systemic discrimination and inequality in all aspects of the field, it has become clear that some cosmic nicknames are not only insensitive, but can be actively harmful.”

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“NASA is considering its use of unofficial terminology for space objects as part of its commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion.”

Among those mentioned as problematic is NGC 2392, a planetary nebula whose nickname includes a term for the indigenous peoples of the Arctic Circle, which many consider offensive.

The Associate Administrator of NASA’s Headquarters Mission Science Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, spoke little about why change is important.

“I support our ongoing reassessment of the names with which we refer to astronomical objects. Our goal is for all names to be consistent with our values ​​of diversity and inclusion, and we will work proactively with the scientific community to help in ensuring this. “

“Science is for everyone, and every aspect of our work should reflect that value.”

NASA will work with “diversity, inclusion, and capital experts in the astronomical and physical sciences” to review other nicknames and make changes where appropriate.

Unfortunately, many of the reactions to NASA’s announcement on social media seem to be people insisting that change is unnecessary and that NASA is simply falling in love with the “awakening of culture.”

It is probably probably safe to say that these people have never tried to learn about astronomy, only to encounter a celestial object whose name contains a racial noise used against their people.

Stephen T. See, Associate Administrator for Diversity and Equal Opportunities at NASA Headquarters also recognized the need for change.

“These nicknames and terms may have historical or cultural connotations that are controversial or undesirable, and NASA is strongly committed to addressing them.”

“Science depends on different contributions, and it benefits everyone, so that means we have to make it inclusive.”

Involvement, by its very nature, creates opportunities and embraces people’s differences and strengths. It costs nothing to change an offensive name and is a great first step in making science more accessible to all.




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