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NASA to reexamine 'insensitive' nicknames for cosmic objects

NASA to reexamine 'insensitive' nicknames for cosmic objects
Posted at 5:07 PM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-08 10:48:51-04

NASA says they are reexamining nicknames for distant objects in outer space such as planets, galaxies, and nebulae because they are insensitive and could be actively harmful.

The Agency says the change is part of their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The unofficial names are sometimes used by members of the scientific community, the agency said.

For example, the nickname for planetary nebula NGC 2392 was Eskimo nebula.

NASA said in a press release that they will not use that nickname anymore.

They said they will also do away with the name Siamese Twins Galaxy, which has been used to refer to a pair of spiral galaxies in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster.

"These nicknames and terms may have historical or cultural connotations that are objectionable or unwelcoming, and NASA is strongly committed to addressing them," said Stephen T. Shih, Associate Administrator for Diversity and Equal Opportunity at NASA Headquarters in the press release. "Science depends on diverse contributions, and benefits everyone, so this means we must make it inclusive.”

NASA said they will work with experts of diversity, inclusion, and equity in the astronomical and physical sciences to "provide guidance and recommendations for other nicknames and terms for review."