NASA has declared they’ll rename some of the presently used nicknames for cosmic bodies that do not comply with the current world that is increasingly inclining to inclusivity and diversity.
The change comes amid a growing oversight on matters related to systematic discrimination, and inequality in all fields of life, including some terminologies that have colonial roots.
Space agencies like NASA often use non-scientific and general human names to identify the otherwise complex alpha-numeric namesake for different cosmic bodies.
For instance, planetary nebula NGC 2392 which is a ‘glowing remains of a Sun-like star that is blowing off its outer layers at the end of its life’ is nicknamed “Eskimo Nebula.”
In the same way, NGC 4567 and NGC 4568, which is a pair of spiral galaxies found in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster is nicknamed “Siamese Twins Galaxy.”
But for now onwards, they won’t be called so.
“As the scientific community works to identify and address systemic discrimination and inequality in all aspects of the field, it has become clear that certain cosmic nicknames are not only insensitive but can be actively harmful,” the world’s most-popular space agency says in a news release.
Terms like ‘eskimo’ and ‘Siamese’ are terms which were historically attached with colonial roots and has a racist history.
“Our goal is that all names are aligned with our values of diversity and inclusion, and we’ll proactively work with the scientific community to help ensure that. Science is for everyone, and every facet of our work needs to reflect that value,” associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters, Washington said.
“I support our ongoing reevaluation of the names by which we refer to astronomical objects.”
NASA explained the use of nicknames for cosmic bodies make it easy and public-friendly. Citing an example, the space agency said how Barnard 33, whose nickname is “the Horsehead Nebula” invokes its appearance.
“Science depends on diverse contributions, and benefits everyone, so this means we must make it inclusive,” Stephen T. Shih, Associate Administrator for Diversity and Equal Opportunity at NASA Headquarters said.