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NASA issues heavenly “numb” nicknames as they deal with systemic discrimination

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced that it will stop using nicknames for celestial bodies that are culturally insensitive.

In a statement released Wednesday, Aug.5, NASA said it had become clear that some cosmic nicknames were not only numb but actively harmful and that they were taking these first steps to address systemic discrimination and inequality in all aspects of the field.

“As a first step, NASA will no longer refer to the planetary nebula NGC 2392, the bright remnants of a Sun-like star that is blowing away from its outer layers at the end of its life, such as the” Eskimo Nebula, “said the. NASA in “Eskimo” is widely seen as a colonial term with a racist history, imposed on the natives of the Arctic regions. Most official documents have strayed from its use. “

NASA also said it will stop referring to a distant galaxy as the “Siamese twin galaxy.”


“NASA will also no longer use the term ‘Siamese twin galaxy’ to refer to NGC 4567 and NGC 4568, a pair of spiral galaxies found in the Virgo galactic cluster,” the statement from NASA said. “Going forward, NASA will only use official designations of the International Astronomical Union in cases where nicknames are inappropriate.”

“Siamese twins” is an outdated term referring to a pair of Siamese-American Siamese twins in the 19th century who regularly appeared in what were known at the time as “weird shows”.

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

But NASA has said these “seemingly harmless” nicknames can be harmful and ultimately alienate the science.

“I support our continuing reevaluation of the names by which we refer to astronomical objects,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at Washington Headquarters. “Our goal is for all names to align with our values ​​of diversity and inclusion and we will work proactively with the scientific community to ensure that this happens. Science is for everyone and every aspect of our work must reflect that value. “.

Going forward, NASA has said it will work with diversity, inclusion and equity experts to provide advice and guidance for designated nicknames.

“These nicknames and terms can have historical or cultural connotations that are questionable or inhospitable and NASA is strongly committed to addressing them,” said Stephen T. Shih, associate administrator for diversity and equal opportunities at NASA headquarters. “Science depends on different contributions and benefits everyone, so this means we need to make it inclusive.”

There has been a cultural showdown in the months following George Floyd’s death at the hands of four police officers in Minneapolis and NASA is the latest organization to join an ever-growing list, along with the likes of Washington Football Team, musical groups “The chicks” is “Lady A, “and food products such as Aunt Jemima, Mrs Butterworth’s and Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream which announced it would abandon the brand “Eskimo Pie“after a century – in examining the power of names.

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