Students worldwide have an opportunity to name an asteroid from which an upcoming NASA 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).
Right now, the asteroid’s name is 1999 RQ36, but The Planetary Society, MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, and the University of Arizona are asking students around the world to suggest better names for the asteroid.
Enter by December 2, 2012, to have a chance to name a piece of the solar system!
The contest is open to kids under the age of 18. To enter, parents or teachers must fill out an online entry form with the proposed name and a short explanation of why that name is a good choice.
Asteroids can’t be named just anything, of course. The International Astronomical Union governs the naming of big and small objects in the solar system, and they have guidelines on how to name near-Earth objects like 1999 RQ36.
**NOTE: This is not an Academy sponsored activity. Please direct all questions and requests for more information directly to The Planetary Society.**