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Home / Science / NASA dropped the celestial moniker ‘insensitive’ in an effort to address discrimination

NASA dropped the celestial moniker ‘insensitive’ in an effort to address discrimination



NASA said the “Eskimo Nebula” and “Siamese Twins Galaxy” were the first to appear.

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced that it will stop using the nicknames of culturally insensitive objects.

In a statement released Wednesday, August 5, NASA said it had become clear that some cosmic nicknames were not only emotionless, but harmful, and that they were taking these first steps to systematically address discrimination and inequality in all aspects of this sector.

“In the first step, NASA will no longer mention the planetary nebula NGC 2392, the glowing remnant of a star that looks like the Sun blowing away its outer layers at the end of its life, as “The Eskimo Nebula,”

; NASA said in a statement. “Eskimo” is seen by many as a colonial term with a racist history imposed on the natives of the Arctic regions. Most of the official documents have left its use. ”

NASA also said it would stop calling a distant galaxy the “Siamese Galaxy”.

“NASA will also no longer use the term ‘Siamese Twins’ to refer to NGC 4567 and NGC 4568, a pair of spiral galaxies found in the Virgo Cluster,” the statement said from NASA. in the future, NASA will only use official designations of the International Astronomical Union in cases where the nickname does not match. ”

“Siamese twins” is an ancient term for a Siamese-American conjoined twins of the 1800s that frequently appeared in what was known as the “singularity” of the time.

Nicknames are often given to celestial bodies and are often referred to by their names rather than their official names, such as Barnard 33, also known as “the Horsehead Nebula” because of its shape.

But NASA says these “seemingly harmless” nicknames can be harmful and ultimately undermine science.

“I support a re-evaluation of the names we use to refer to astronomical objects,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, deputy administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters, Washington. “Our goal is that all names are in line with our diverse and inclusive values ​​and we will actively work with the scientific community to ensure that. Science is for everyone, and every aspect of our work needs to reflect that value. ”

In the future, NASA said it will work with diverse, inclusive, and impartial experts to provide advice and guidance for designated aliases.

“These nicknames and terms may have historical or cultural significance that are either objectionable or undesirable, and NASA is strongly committed to addressing them,” said Stephen T. Shih, Co-administrator for Mechanical Engineering. diversity and equality at NASA Headquarters said. “Science depends on diverse contributions and benefits everyone, so this means we have to make it holistic.”

There has been a cultural calculation in the months following George Floyd’s death at the hands of four police officers in Minneapolis and NASA is the latest to join the growing roster – along with people like The Washington football team, the “The Chicks” and “Lady A” groups and food products like Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth’s and Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, who have announced the removal of the “Eskimo Pie” brand after a century – to test the power of names.


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