NASA casting off ‘dangerous’ nicknames for cosmic objects

Washington, August 6

NASA is inspecting its use of unofficial terminology for cosmic objects in a bid to get rid of insensitive or dangerous nicknames.

As an preliminary step, NASA will not discuss with planetary nebula NGC 2392, the glowing stays of a Sun-like star that’s blowing off its outer layers on the finish of its life, because the “Eskimo Nebula,” the US house company stated on Wednesday.

“Eskimo” is extensively seen as a colonial time period with a racist historical past, imposed on the indigenous folks of Arctic areas.

Most official paperwork have moved away from its use, NASA stated.

NASA will even not use the time period “Siamese Twins Galaxy” to discuss with NGC 4567 and NGC 4568, a pair of spiral galaxies discovered within the Virgo Galaxy Cluster.

Moving ahead, NASA stated it will use solely the official, International Astronomical Union designations in circumstances the place nicknames have been inappropriate.

“These nicknames and terms may have historical or culture connotations that are objectionable or unwelcoming, and NASA is strongly committed to addressing them,” stated Stephen Shih, Associate Administrator for Diversity and Equal Opportunity at NASA Headquarters.

“Science depends on diverse contributions, and benefits everyone, so this means we must make it inclusive.”

Nicknames are sometimes extra approachable and public-friendly than official names for cosmic objects, corresponding to Barnard 33, whose nickname “the Horsehead Nebula” invokes its look.

But usually seemingly innocuous nicknames could be dangerous and detract from the science.

NASA stated it is going to be working with variety, inclusion, and fairness consultants within the astronomical and bodily sciences to supply steerage and suggestions for different nicknames and phrases for assessment.

The announcement got here amid the Black Lives Matter motion gaining new momentum worldwide following the loss of life of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, beneath police custody in Minnesota on May 25. IANS

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