Your Chance to Name an Asteroid -- If You're 18 or Younger
Here is your chance to name an asteroid! No, it's not the asteroid that humans will visit under President Obama's human spaceflight plan, but you can submit a suggestion for a name for a special asteroid nonetheless. That is, if you are a student 18 or younger from anywhere in the world.
NASA will be sending a spacecraft to return a sample of asteroid 1999 RQ36, but that's a little hard to remember, so it is seeking suggestions for a new name. First prize will go to the student who recommends a name that meets the approval of the International Astronomical Union Committee for Small-Body Nomenclature.
The spacecraft also has a name that's a little hard to remember: OSIRIS-REx. It stands for Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer. Scheduled for launch in 2016, it will return a sample of the asteroid to Earth for analysis.
Candidate names are limited to 16 characters and the student must provide a short explanation and rationale for the name. The deadline is December 2, 2012.
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