Asteroid (101955) 1999 RQ36 needs a name!
Teachers, parents, planetaria people and all those of you aiming to get students and children excited about astronomy, here’s a great opportunity!
NASA invites students worldwide to name an asteroid from which an upcoming mission will return the first samples to Earth.
Scheduled to launch in 2016, the mission is called the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx). Samples returned from the primitive surface of the near-Earth asteroid currently called (101955) 1999 RQ36 could hold clues to the origin of the solar system and organic molecules that may have seeded life on Earth. NASA also is planning a crewed mission to an asteroid by 2025. A closer scientific study of asteroids will provide context and help inform this mission.
The students of today suggesting the names could well be the scientists of tomorrow analysing the asteroid samples.
The competition is open to students under age 18 from anywhere in the world. Each contestant can submit one name, up to 16 characters long. Entries must include a short explanation and rationale for the name. Submissions must be made by an adult on behalf of the student. The contest deadline is Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. More details here.
If your students or you yourself are over 18, but you are still interested in the topic, the Space Generation Advisory Council, the international organisation to be in as a young space leader, has a dedicated group in which you can get involved in matters such as planetary defence and projects connected with Near Earth Objects. Read more here.