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NASA dropped the nickname “emotionless” to space objects



NASA is joining a growing list of organizations and companies that are reviewing its naming system, removing “insensitive” and “harmful” names from its vocabulary. Aunt Jemima, The chicks, Lady A, Mrs. Butterworth’s, the Washington football team – and now, the celestial bodies – are all being rebranded.

“The Eskimo Nebula” and “Siamese Twins” are just two examples of nicknames that will be scrapped, the space agency announced this week. It says, “Often seemingly innocuous nicknames can harm and invalidate science.

Celestial bodies such as planets, galaxies, and nebulae are often given informal nicknames, as their official name is often a series of letters and numbers. However, NASA says some of the names are offensive and they plan to remove them.

“As the scientific community works to identify and systematically address discrimination and inequality in all aspects of the field, it is clear that some cosmological nicknames are not just insensitive. but it can also cause positive harm, “the agency said. “NASA is examining the use of unofficial terms for space objects as part of its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

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NASA says it will no longer refer to the planetary nebula NGC 2392, the glowing remnant of a sun-like star near the end of its life cycle, known as the “Eskimo Nebula.” It acknowledges the term’s racist origins.

Many natives consider Eskimo an insulting term because non-native settlers used it to mean “raw cannibals,” referring to barbarism. In June, Dreyer’s Ice Cream rename “Eskimo Pie” after nearly 100 years.


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In addition, the agency will no longer refer to the spiral galaxies NGC 4567 and NGC 4568 as the “Siamese Twins”.

“Siamese twins” is an outdated term used to refer to conjoined twins, originally inspired by the Chang and Eng Bunker brothers, who were born in present-day Siam, Thailand. The twins performed in 19th century “weird shows” for European and American audiences.

NASA said it will only use official International Astronomical Union symbols to refer to objects previously nicknamed “unsuitable”.

“Our goal is that all names are consistent with our inclusive and inclusive values ​​and we will actively work with the scientific community to ensure that. Science is for all. Everyone and every aspect of our work should reflect that value. ” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, said.

The agency said it is working with experts on diversity, inclusion and equity to recommend different nicknames and terms for future audiences.

“These nicknames and terms may have offensive or unwelcome historical or cultural implications, and NASA says,” said Stephen T. Shih, Deputy Administrator for Diversity and Equal Opportunity. very committed to solving them ”. “Science depends on diverse contributions and benefits everyone, so this means we have to make it inclusive.”


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