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Online poll about naming Uranus space mission becomes butt of the joke

Scientists are keen to send a probe into Uranus. (Credit: Getty)

The internet doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to naming suggestions for scientific endeavours.

Just ask the Natural Environment Research Council.

So when ExploreIGO, a Twitter fan account, posted a poll to find suitable monikers for Nasa’s upcoming Uranus mission, the responses were what you’d expect.

Answers ranged from the actually-quite-good to the obvious-schoolyard-joke that while iliciting a snigger, probably won’t make it to Nasa’s shortlist.

Earlier this year, scientists actually put forward a pretty decent proposal to visit the distant icy planet and explore its secrets.

An upcoming robotic mission, called the Uranus Orbiter and Probe (UOP), would execute a flyby of the Uranus system and deliver a probe into the ringed gas giant’s atmosphere.

Probe. Gas. Uranus. You can see where this is going.

The tweet generated tens of thousands of likes, retweets and comments.

Some of the sensible suggestions included ‘Discovery’ after Nasa’s most-flown space shuttle, ‘Earhart’ after Amelia Earhart and Caroline after astronomer Caroline Herschel who, along with her brother, is credited as discovering the first two moons of Uranus.

Then, we’ve got the jokes. Including: the Advanced New Uranus Space mission (ANUS) or the Better Uranus Telemetry Tracking (BUTT).

Scientificially speaking, Uranus is ripe for exploring.

The last time the planet was visited was when Voyager 2 passed it back in 1986.

The planet, lying 1.6 billion miles (at its closest distance) from Earth is an ‘ice giant’, made up of large amounts of icy material swirling around a small rocky core.

EMBARGOED TO 1500 TUESDAY MAY 31 Undated handout photo issued by NASA of Uranus seen from Voyager 2, as scientists have explained why, despite having much in common, Uranus and Neptune have very different appearances. Issue date: Tuesday May 31, 2022. PA Photo. New research, led by Professor Patrick Irwin at the University of Oxford, suggests a layer of haze on both planets is behind the different hues. See PA story SCIENCE Uranus. Photo credit should read: NASA/JPL/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Uranus as seen from Voyager 2 (Credits: PA)

Uranus is full of scientific unknowns – like why it does it rotate nearly on its side and how did it develop its complex magnetic field.

Could we even find alien life there?

These questions we won’t know the answer to until Nasa starts to probe deep inside its murky depths.


MORE : We now know why Uranus is the colour that it is


MORE : ‘We really want to probe Uranus for signs of life’, scientists say

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