Science & Technology

Newly Named Asteroids Honor Pioneering Astronauts Who Have Helped Expand Our Horizons Beyond Earth

On this picture from 2003, retired astronaut Joan Higginbotham took a break from coaching for the STS-116 mission and is proven in entrance of a NASA T-38 coach. Credit score: NASA

Twenty-seven asteroids have been named in honor of African American, Hispanic, and Native American astronauts, and one cosmonaut, who’ve helped increase our horizons past Earth and to encourage the subsequent technology of area explorers.

Among the many 27 individuals who impressed these new asteroid names are Stephanie D. Wilson, Joan Higginbotham, and Ed Dwight Jr., a captain within the U.S. Air Drive who turned the primary African American astronaut trainee in 1961. José Hernández, who developed the primary full-field digital mammography imaging system, additionally impressed an asteroid title.

 and their namesake asteroids was launched on February 23 by the Minor Planet Middle, a corporation affiliated with the Worldwide Astronomical Union (IAU), that’s accountable for the identification, designation and orbit computation for minor planets and different objects. Up till now, these asteroids had provisional names indicating their time of discovery. All 27 are situated within the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

(103738) Stephaniewilson and (103739) Higginbotham had been named after girls who’ve made vital contributions to area exploration. On prime of distinguished engineering careers, each had been chosen in 1996 to affix NASA’s Astronaut Group 16, nicknamed “The Sardines” due to its massive class measurement of 44 candidates.

As {an electrical} engineer at NASA’s Kennedy Area Middle in Florida, Higginbotham labored on 53 area shuttle launches between 1996 and 2007. As an astronaut, she launched from Kennedy aboard the area shuttle Discovery to the Worldwide Area Station (ISS), the place she served as a mission specialist on an meeting mission.

Wilson, an aerospace engineer, labored for a number of years at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, as a member of the Angle and Articulation Management Subsystem group for NASA’s Galileo spacecraft. After turning into an astronaut, she traveled to the area station 3 times, logging greater than 42 days in area. Right now, Wilson is on NASA’s Artemis Workforce of astronauts, certainly one of whom will develop into the primary lady to set foot on the Moon.

NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson is a member of the Artemis Workforce, a choose group of astronauts charged with specializing in the event and coaching efforts for early Artemis missions. Credit score: NASA

Consecutively named asteroids had been chosen for Wilson and Higginbotham in a nod to the very fact they had been chosen as astronaut candidates in the identical class.

Asteroid (92579) Dwight was named after Ed Dwight Jr., who was born in 1933 in Kansas Metropolis, Kansas. He recounts  being shocked by a newspaper article profiling a black pilot, a revelation of unimagined risk. This set him on his personal pursuit of flight. After making it to the rank of captain within the U.S. Air Drive, he was recruited to be the primary African American astronaut trainee. Within the astronaut program, he encountered deeply entrenched racism, was ultimately compelled out, and resigned from the Air Drive in 1966. Dwight selected a wildly completely different path after this main setback, returning to his early love of the humanities by reinventing himself as a sculptor of African American historical past. He created greater than 100 memorials globally and lots of hundreds of different artworks.

Former astronaut José Hernández working controls on the flight deck of area shuttle Discovery whereas docked with the Worldwide Area Station on August 31, 2009. Credit score: NASA

José Hernández, the astronaut behind asteroid (122554) Joséhernández, was born right into a migrant farming household and spent his youth working within the fields. When he was in highschool, Hernández was impressed by Franklin Chang-Díaz, a long-time astronaut who flew seven area shuttle missions from 1986 to 2002. Hernández went on to obtain bachelor’s and grasp’s levels in electrical engineering, labored on X-ray lasers, developed the primary full-field digital mammography imaging system, after which turned an astronaut. Hernández traveled on the area shuttle Discovery to the ISS in 2009 on a mission to ship a Multi-Goal Logistics Module. Now asteroids (122554) Joséhernández and (115015) Chang Díaz can encourage the subsequent technology of area explorers.  

“It’s an honor and a privilege to call these asteroids in recognition of fellow area explorers whereas additionally including to the message of the ability and worth of variety for all human endeavors,” stated Marc W. Buie, an astronomer who found the 27 asteroids within the final couple of a long time. Buie is a Boulder, Colorado-based astronomer on the Southwest Analysis Institute, which is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas.

Buie can be a co-investigator on NASA’s Lucy mission, which can launch atop the Atlas V 401 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on October 16, 2021. Its 12-year mission — the primary of its type — is to review seven Trojan asteroids which can be among the many two swarms of area rocks that circle the Solar, main and following Jupiter in its orbit. Lucy can even fly by one main-belt asteroid.

The asteroid-naming proposal to the IAU, a corporation that approves and certifies the names of astronomical objects and options, was a group effort by scientists and college students concerned with Lucy. It was led by Cathy Olkin, deputy principal investigator of the Lucy mission at Southwest Analysis Institute, and Keith S. Noll, a planetary astronomer at NASA’s Goddard Area Flight Middle in Greenbelt, Maryland, who serves as Lucy undertaking scientist.

“Final summer season a gaggle of us bought collectively to honor a various group of astronauts who’ve traveled to area and the pioneers who paved the way in which for these explorers,” stated Olkin. “However there are lots of extra, and we hope so as to add their names to the sky sooner or later.”

Moreover Olkin and Noll, the analysis and quotation writing group included Katherine Kretke, Lucy communications lead; Carly Howett, Lucy instrument scientist; Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Lucy undertaking supervisor; Edward ‘Beau’ Bierhaus, Lucy scientist; Jake Olkin, graduate pupil at College of Michigan; and Zach Olkin, undergraduate pupil at Georgia Tech.

Right here is the total checklist of newly named asteroids and the astronauts they honor:

Edward (Ed) Joseph Dwight Jr. (b. 1933) was the primary African American astronaut candidate. He served within the Air Drive, working as check pilot earlier than serving within the Aerospace Analysis Pilot College. After leaving the Air Drive he went on to develop into an influential sculptor and writer.

. (1935-1967) was chosen for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program. He was the primary African American to be chosen as an astronaut and was the one MOL astronaut with a doctorate. He perished in a aircraft crash earlier than he had the chance to go to area.

(b. 1942) was the primary African American astronaut in area. He was part of 4 area shuttle missions between 1983 and 1992, which included deploying satellites, testing robotic arms, and conducting analysis. Bluford logged a complete of 688 hours in area.

(b. 1941) is a retired astronaut who was the pilot on one area shuttle mission and commander on two different missions. In 1989, he was the primary African American to command an area flight. He additionally served as deputy administrator of NASA.

. (b. 1946) is a former astronaut who flew on 4 area shuttle missions (two because the pilot and two because the commander). From 2009-2017, he was NASA’s administrator.

(b. 1956) is a retired astronaut who flew on the area shuttle in 1992. There she performed scientific experiments. She was the primary African American lady to journey to area and the primary African American lady admitted into the astronaut coaching program.

(b. 1956) is a former astronaut who flew on two area shuttle missions. In 1993, he was a mission specialist who carried out analysis as a part of Spacelab D-2. As payload commander on the area shuttle Discovery in 1995, he turned the primary African American to conduct a spacewalk.

Winston Elliott Scott (b. 1950) is a former astronaut who flew two missions to area. Scott accomplished three spacewalks to retrieve satellites and consider the meeting of the ISS. He additionally carried out experiments on the results of zero gravity on the human physique.

(b. 1962) is a retired astronaut and the primary individual to carry out 4 spacewalks on a single mission. Whereas in area, Curbeam helped repair a photo voltaic panel and set up a brand new truss within the ISS. He spent greater than 37 days in area and 45 hours on spacewalks.

(b. 1966) is the second African American lady to fly in area. She has flown on three missions, and as of 2020, logged probably the most time in area of any African American astronaut (42 days). She additionally served as the bottom commander for the primary all-women spacewalk in 2019.

(b. 1964) is {an electrical} engineer and former astronaut. As an engineer at NASA’s Kennedy Area Middle, she participated in 53 area shuttle launches earlier than turning into an astronaut and was the third African American lady to go to area.

(b. 1962) is an astronaut who flew two area shuttle missions to the ISS as a mission specialist. He logged greater than 25 days in area. He additionally performed two spacewalks.

As an astronaut,  (b. 1964) helped construct the ISS, with flights aboard the area shuttle Atlantis in 2008 and 2009. Melvin can be an engineer with expertise utilizing sensors to evaluate harm of aerospace automobiles and was an NFL soccer participant with the Detroit Lions.

(b. 1965) is an orthopedic surgeon, chemical engineer and retired astronaut. He was the primary orthopedic surgeon in area and took part in two spacewalks as a part of an area shuttle flight to the ISS in 2009.

Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez (b. 1942) was the primary individual of African ancestry and the primary Hispanic (Cuban) cosmonaut to journey into area with the crew of Soyuz 38 in September 1980. He acquired the primary Hero of the Republic of Cuba medal and lots of different honors.

(b. 1950) was an astronaut for 25 years and flew seven area shuttle missions from 1986 to 2002. He logged greater than 1,600 hours in area and helped to deploy the Galileo spacecraft to Jupiter. He’s the primary Costa Rican astronaut and can be of Chinese language descent.

(b. 1951) is a former astronaut. He was the pilot on the area shuttle Columbia in 1991. That mission was the primary Spacelab mission devoted to organic sciences. He was the commander of an area shuttle Endeavour mission in 1994 that used radar to review the Earth.

(b. 1958) is a former astronaut. In 1993, she was the primary Hispanic lady to go to area. She flew 4 area shuttle missions, logged almost 1,000 hours in area, and have become director of NASA’s Johnson Area Middle in Houston.

(b. 1958) is a retired astronaut who flew on 4 NASA missions: three aboard the area shuttle, and one on the Soyuz spacecraft for a long-duration mission aboard the ISS. He has carried out 10 spacewalks throughout his 257 days in area.Whereas in area, he carried out experiments on supplies, biotechnology and combustion.

was born in 1959 in Peru and have become an astronaut in 1996. He was a mission specialist aboard the area shuttle Atlantis on NASA’s sixth mission to dock with the Russian Mir Area Station, and aboard the area shuttle Endeavour mission to ship and set up the primary set of photo voltaic arrays to the ISS .

(b. 1966) is a former astronaut. Olivas flew two area shuttle missions, in 2007 and 2009, to assemble the ISS. He performed 5 spacewalks throughout these two missions.

(b. 1962) is a retired astronaut. Zamka piloted the area shuttle Discovery in its October 2007 mission to the ISS. He was the commander of the area shuttle Endeavour mission in February 2010, an ISS meeting mission.

(b. 1967) flew to the ISS in 2009, 2012 and 2018, aboard each the area shuttle and the Soyuz spacecraft. On his first flight, he participated in spacewalks to assemble the area station. As of July 2020, he has spent 306 days in area.

(b. 1962) was born right into a migrant farming household. He turned an astronaut and was a mission specialist on area shuttle Discovery’s mission to the ISS in 2008. Previous to his time as an astronaut, Hernández helped to develop the primary full-field digital mammography imaging system.

(b. 1976) is an engineer, doctor, and astronaut. She has collected meteorites in Antarctica, served as an aquanaut on an undersea analysis station, and was a flight engineer on the ISS for six months in 2018.

Rodolfo Neri Vela (b. 1952) is the primary Mexican individual to journey to area. In 1985, he was a payload specialist on the area shuttle Atlantis. Throughout the flight, he performed experiments, together with many with regards to human physiology.

(b. 1958) is a former astronaut and a member of the Chickasaw Nation. Herrington was a mission specialist aboard area shuttle Endeavour for the sixteenth area shuttle flight to the ISS, performing three spacewalks in the course of the mission.

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