New Horizons Has a New Name Ultima Thule

NASA Chooses a Name Ultima Thule for New Horizons’ Next Celestial Target

New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe that was launched as a part of NASA’s New Frontiers program. It is the first mission in NASA’s New Frontiers mission category, larger and more expensive than the Discovery missions. The spacecraft has already visited Pluto, the farthest world any mission has ever been to, and it will explore another celestial body on January 1, 2019. The team named it “Ultima Thule” [pronounced ultima thoo-lee”] for the Kuiper Belt object the New Horizons spacecraft which will launch at the first of January 2019. It is officially known as MU69, the object, which orbits a billion miles beyond Pluto. It is supposed to be the most primitive world that ever observed by spacecraft. The name of “Ultima Thule” means “beyond Thule” that is to say it is the exploration of the distant Kuiper Belt and Kuiper Belt objects that New Horizons is performing, something that has never been before. Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator, said “MU69 is humanity’s next Ultima Thule.” “Our spacecraft is heading beyond the limits of the known worlds, to what will be this mission’s next achievement. Since this will be the farthest exploration of any object in space in history, I like to call our flyby target Ultima, for short, symbolizing this ultimate exploration by NASA and our team.”
It was suggested more than 34.000 names, and after the difficult decision they have chosen this one. Ultima Thule was nominated by about 40 members of the public and one of the highest vote-getters among all name nominees. “We are grateful to those who proposed such an interesting and inspirational nickname” Showalter said. “They deserve credit for capturing the true spirit of exploration that New Horizons embodies.”

Source: NASA