NASA asks for help to name New Horizons' next target for exploration

Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69 is a mouthful. So NASA is asking for help to name the icy body that Pluto explorer New Horizons is set to visit in just over a year.

The spacecraft flew past Pluto in July 2015, providing the first clear view of the former planet. A year later, NASA approved an extended mission under which New Horizons will explore an even smaller body at the edge of the solar system that it is already speeding toward.

It is expected to make its closest approach to that hunk of space junk on New Year’s Day 2019.

The mission is managed from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel.

By the end of this year, scientists hope to come up with a better name than 2014 MU69, so they can more easily discuss the object and drum up public interest in the discoveries it could allow.

At, you can offer a suggested nickname or vote for one of the nominations that has already been received. The campaign is accepting nominations until Dec. 1.

If the current vote leader wins, the object could still be known by a tongue-twister: Mjölnir, the name for the hammer of Thor, the Norse god of thunder.

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