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New Horizons’ space snowman is named Arrokoth

Arrokoth
A composite image based on data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft shows the icy Kuiper Belt object formerly known as 2014 MU69 or Ultima Thule, and now called Arrokoth. (NASA / SwRI / JHUAPL Photo)

The snowman-shaped object that NASA’s New Horizons probe flew past nearly a year ago on the solar system’s icy fringe now has a Native American name: Arrokoth, a word that means “sky” in the Powhatan/Algonquian language.

Arrokoth replaces earlier labels for the Kuiper Belt object, including the numerical designation 2014 MU69 and the nickname Ultima Thule, which turned out to be rather controversial.

Members of the New Horizons science team announced today that their proposed name has won approval by the International Astronomical Union and its Minor Planet Center.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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