back to article NASA boffins tackle Nazi alien in space – with the help of Native American tribal elders

NASA has given the Kuiper belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule the official name Arrokoth, which means sky in the Native American Powhatan-Algonquian language. Before the rock was known as Ultima Thule or Arrokoth, it was dubbed the rather tongue-twisting 486958 2014 MU69. After NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft arrived at the …

  1. Mark 85

    This just seems to be carrying political correctness a bit too far. Yes some things should be off limits but in this case, it just seems like someone found a reason to offense. The full name the first used seemed to fit, but part of the name offended someone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The US was worried that with the new Space Force arm, mails to Thule might be misrouted and not end up on the air base in Greenland.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The bit about it being used by the Nazis isn't even true.

      1. Kabukiwookie

        Indeed, everyone knows they're on the Dark Side of the Moon.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          There is no dark side of the Moon, really. As a matter of fact, it's all dark

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            There is a dark side of the Moon - just it changes as the Moon rotates.

            1. Graham Dawson Silver badge
              Black Helicopters

              Silly man, holograms can't rotate.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Why you shouldn't rotate an hologram?

                1. Simon Reed

                  Because then it becomes a margoloh.

    3. Rich 11

      This just seems to be carrying political correctness a bit too far.

      Rubbish. It was a nickname due for replacement as usual, that's all. Your response tells us more about your mindset than it does about NASA's.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Just sometimes the nicknames were used as the definitive name, if they didn't break IAU rules.

      2. teknopaul Silver badge

        It wouldn't be first time the only person offended was a commentard presuming someone esle was offended.

        It political correctness gone too far, gone too far.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I can't see why we should not use a name dating back to ancient Greek writers, used by many great writers in the past centuries to name a distant, hardly reachable land, just because some later dangerous idiot knew it and used it too somehow?

      Should we destroy all those "nazi" symbols in Buddhist or Hindu temples too? For someone grown in Europe is at first very uncomfortable so see a wall full of swastikas - until you realize it has a full different meaning there, and it would be utterly wrong to condemn them.

      Should the wrong thing be just the cultural appropriation attempts made by nazism, and never the original names and symbols? Could we please put things in the right context? We should never let neo-nazi rewrite our history at their will, and let them appropriate names far older and far greater than them.

      I only think the name was wasted for such little object - it would be better used for some more interesting and larger object.

      1. OssianScotland

        I suppose I ought to burn my early-edition Kipling's - the endpapers are full of a certain Hindu good-luck symbol

        1. Little Mouse Silver badge

          And I guess I should add my roofbox to the bonfire.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Thor's hammer is a symbol used as a badge by a bunch of Scandinavian towns for 1000years

        It is now officially racist in America because of links to far right groups

        1. OssianScotland

          Has anyone told Marvel?

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Has anyone told Volvo?

        2. jake Silver badge

          Thors hammer is "officially" racist in America? Really? Who says? First I've heard of it. Honestly, where do you lot get your information, anyway?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Probably depends how official you think the ADL or SPLC are. They're gospel to some.

            1. jake Silver badge

              They are no more official than any other group of lawyers making a buck off the whinging of the hand-wringers and namby-pambys. That is to say not official at all.

          2. Simon Reed

            Here you go:

            And: "Swedish Government wants to ban ancient Viking symbols, claiming they “constitute incitement to hatred” "

            1. jake Silver badge

              The ADL?

              There are still idiots who pay attention to those nutters? Who knew?

              This isn't Sweden, so I'm not sure what your point is there ...

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              The ADL are not "officials". The Swedish government is not the government of the USA.

          3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            >Who says? First I've heard of it. Honestly, where do you lot get your information, anyway?

            The Anti-Defamation League the major US authority on hate crimes

            Anti-defamation League Hate Symbols Database

            (or a bunch of zionist reactionaries if you are a Labour MP)

            1. jake Silver badge

              "The Anti-Defamation League, a self-appointed US "authority" on what they decide are hate crimes"


            2. NotBob

              The ADL isn't an authority on anything. They think they are, but no intelligent person pays them any mind.

            3. OssianScotland

              So 737 is a hate symbol? Has anyone told Boeing?

              Looking through that list, it appears that almost anything (including 100% and also the "not equals" sign) is offensive in some way. I was particularly struck by the word "hate" being itself a hate symbol, therefore their list of hate symbols, recursively, is also one.

              Stop the world, I want to get off!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So sick of this crap

        The "Bankers" would disagree with you...

      4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        I can't see why we should not use a name dating back to ancient Greek writers [continue usual whinge]

        No one said "we" couldn't use the name. NASA decided in this case not to ask the IAU to approve the name "Ultima Thule" for this particular bit of rock. So fucking what?

        Personally, I suspect they did it just to get a rise out of all the political-correctness-bugbear scaremongers on the Internet.

      5. Muscleguy

        Indeed and the swastika almost certainly comes from space as well. If you observe a spinning cometary tail from end on the tail takes on the shape of a swastika. Since in times past the skies were watched for 'messengers from the God(s)' such things were made religious.

        That the Nazis co-opted a Hindu symbol while remaining racist is a major irony.

        A few years ago a well meaning Hindu guy in Auckland, NZ painted the roof of his suburban house with a swastika as a religious act but was sadly forced to paint over it by the neighbours and council. Since Hindus have a much, much older claim to it that they can no longer use it because of a blip in history is actually quite sad and I say that as a dyed in the wool atheist.

        It is hard in the modern world to grasp how bright the heavens used to be to our ancestors without street lights etc. One of the benefits of moving up here to Dundee from NW7 in London is I can see some stars from my back yard. Not many but some. We only have to drive a relatively short way up the coast to find a dark bit of seaside to watch the aurora from.

        But it doesn't match looking up at the sweep of the Milky Way from Southern New Zealand where I did much growing up. At university we would wander up the hill behind our college and lie on our backs looking up. We had a friend into astronomy who would pronounce on 'shooting star or satellite' and name things for us.

        When back I go out at night and spot the Southern Cross and know I'm home.

  2. jake Silver badge

    I have it on good authority that ...

    ... in astronomical circles, the large end is still going to be known as Ultima and the small end Thule. Gotta name 'em something, and that's what they are already called, so ...

  3. stuartnz
    Thumb Up

    I'm here for the headline

    Top reading from a red top - keep doin' what ya do, El Reg!

  4. Mystic Megabyte

    Space is big

    I wonder if New Horizons will discover any more objects out there or is this the end of the line for it.

    1. stuartnz
    2. arctic_haze

      Re: Space is big

      New Horizon did not discover this snowman. Hubble Space Telescope did when they were looking for a second target for this mission.

  5. david 12 Silver badge


    Gone from using a name which signified the strength and endurance of the indigenous Germanic peoples, to one which signified the strength and endurance of the indigenous Algonquian peoples. Because culture and race based superiority is what we really want to celebrate.

    1. aks

      Re: PiC

      The swastika's name and most prominent usage is from India and very ancient. It may well have been used in the heartlands of Asia before being used by the Aryan (Iranian) peoples of central Asia. Usage of this symbol by Scandinavians came later. The fact that the National Socialists of Germany used it in a modified form didn't give them exclusive rights to it.

      Thule as recognised by the Greeks and Romans was probably Orkney or Shetland but the Vikings moved it to Iceland or Greenland as Ultima Thule.

  6. sum_of_squares

    >That may sound all mystical and cool, however, at the time, it was noted that the name was used by Germany's Nazi party..

    I already said that 9 month ago. Just saying.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    one way ticket

    "Thule, a legendary island north of Europe, was at some point appropriated as some kind of utopian origin land of the Aryan race."

    Maybe we can give the Nazis a one way ticket.

    (to the space rock, not Europe)

    1. John G Imrie

      Re: one way ticket

      I think we need some kind of an Ark to send them on. Perhaps the Beyond Ark or B-Ark for short.

      1. OssianScotland

        Re: one way ticket

        WIll there be room after all the lawyers and telephone sanitisers?

        1. ma1010

          Re: one way ticket

          No, we want to keep the telephone sanitis(z)ers! Remember what happened to the people on Golgafrincham after they launched their telephone sanitizers in the B-Ark: they all died from a disease caught from a dirty telephone.

          Instead, I propose we take all the lawyers, politicians, control freaks and add to them all the people who are involved in designing or implementing Internet trackers, "targeted" advertising, robo-calls and all other forms of spam. And don't forget Ajit Pai. Put them all on the "B" Ark but program it like Hotblack Desiato's stunt ship - launch it straight into the sun. After that, the Golden Age of Earth can begin. It couldn't hurt, and I think it's worth a try, at least.

          1. Aussie Doc

            Re: one way ticket

            I like that list.

            Could we add folk who fart in lifts, please?

            1. D@v3

              Re: farting in lifts

              Is wrong on so many levels

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: farting in lifts

                Wrong on the basement level, the ground floor level, the ... I'd say it's not wrong on many levels, but rather it's wrong on every level.

            2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

              Re: one way ticket

              Some people can't control where they fart/burp, just like most people can't control where they sneeze.

  8. batfink

    Why Sky?

    Arrokoth, which means sky in the Native American Powhatan-Algonquian language

    Er, surely the word for "rock" might have been more appropriate than the one which means "sky"?

    I would have thought NASA, at least, would be able to tell the difference.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Why Sky?

      "Why not call it a rock?"

      "Look. You obviously have no concept of modern marketing..."

      1. John G Imrie

        Re: Why Sky?

        Stick it up your nose?

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Why Sky?

          "Which is exactly what I mean! Do people want fire that can be fitted nasally?"

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why Sky?

            No idea, but I have it on good authority that there are marketing people who would like a rock that can be fitted nasally.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Why Sky?

              No idea, but I have it on good authority that there are marketing people who would like need a rock that can be fitted nas anally.


  9. Joe Gurman

    If I recall correctly....

    .... Ultimate Thule featured in the vintage cinematic comic strip Prince Valiant.

    1. Robert Moore

      Re: If I recall correctly....

      Not sure about that, but it was one of the first planets visited by the crew of Moonbase Alpha on Space 1999

      They found the crew of a lost space probe, who lived forever on the planet, but died nearly instantly after leaving.

      1. swm

        Re: If I recall correctly....

        Captain Video in the 1950's had an episode about Ultima Thule.

        Unfortunately, this TV show was done live and, I believe, no recordings were made.

  10. Doctor Evil

    a matter of perspective

    "NASA said it obtained consent from Powhatan Tribal elders to use the word. “We graciously accept this gift from the Powhatan people," said Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division."

    Hmmm. "Gracious" seems to be more what the Powhatan elders were; "gratefully", perhaps?

  11. Crisp

    We need to send up another probe

    With a giant carrot. And some massive lumps of coal.

  12. Spherical Cow


    Never mind the Thule bit, new discoveries mean it was never going to stay Ultima.

  13. Aussie Doc
    Paris Hilton


    Pearl clutchers gonna clutch them pearls. She knows pearls ------>

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Space 1999

    The name change means that Ultima Thule is still available for use by Brian Blessed with an unfeasibly large (even for him) beard as the leader of a band of astronauts who crashed on an icy planet and who seem to live forever.

    Commentards of a certain age will remember the trauma-inducing ending to *that* episode:

    1. aelfheld

      Re: Space 1999

      Ah, but the beard was even better in 1980.

  15. aelfheld

    The NAZIs used

    air too, as do the alt-right.

    Is that to be banned next?

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: The NAZIs used

      Talk about overreacting...

      Nothing has been banned. NASA didn't ask the IAU to approve the nickname they were using; they decided to go with another name.

      My word, but some of you are sensitive.

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