JAXA Wants You — Yes You! — to Name Hayabusa2’s Target Asteroid

Hayabusa2 approach target. (Credit: JAXA)
Hayabusa2 approach target. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) started invite of naming proposals for the near Earth asteroid 1999 JU3, which is the target of Hayabusa2, the mission to return samples from the asteroid.

  1. Fill out the application form below before the deadline, August 31, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. (Japan Standard Time).
  2. No conditions are required. Applying multiple times is also possible.
  3. Asteroid naming guidelines:
    Asteroids can’t be named just anything; the International Astronomical Union IAU) has rules. The following are conditions stipulated by IAU for naming an asteroid.

Proposed names must be:

  • no more than 16 characters long (including any spaces or punctuation);
  • preferably one word;
  • pronounceable (in some language);
  • written using Latin characters (transliterations of names from languages not written using Latin characters are acceptable);
  • non-offensive;
  • not identical with or even too similar to an existing name of a minor planet or natural planetary satellite.

Submissions must be made through the official proposal application form.

The entries will be judged by a selection panel including outside experts and staff from the HAYABUSA2 project, which will inform the selected name to the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) Team of the U.S., that has right to suggest the name for 1999 JU3, and the LINEAR will propose the name to the IAU. Then, the Committee for Small-Body nomenclature of the IAU will review the name.

The name will be finalized when it appears in the issue of “Minor Planet Circulars (MPCs)” published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC), a subordinate organization of the IAU. The publication timeframe is not clear at this moment, but it is expected to be sometime around the end of November 2015. For your information, the MPCs is issued monthly. Please check it on the following website.


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  • Hug Doug

    Is there an asteroid named “Bob” yet?

    *checks list*

    (5871) Bobbell
    (30374) Bobbiehinson
    (6708) Bobbievaile
    (24249) Bobbiolson
    (19577) Bobbyfisher
    (5642) Bobbywilliams
    (13562) Bobeggleton
    (54411) Bobestelle
    (10498) Bobgent
    (12014) Bobhawkes
    (147397) Bobhazel
    (2829) Bobhope
    (7159) Bobjoseph
    (63305) Bobkepple
    (37859) Bobkoff
    (332324) Bobmcdonald
    (43657) Bobmiller
    (2507) Bobone
    (28802) Boborino
    (13413) Bobpeterson
    (6641) Bobross
    (18321) Bobrov
    (2637) Bobrovnikoff
    (27571) Bobscott
    (159778) Bobshelton
    (5549) Bobstefanik
    (39890) Bobstephens
    (27279) Boburan
    (6181) Bobweber
    (13423) Bobwoolley
    (27968) Bobylapointe

    Do you think just plain “Bob” would be “too similar” to these names?

  • therealdmt

    Mr. Roboto

  • therealdmt

    Woah As Neil Young might say, a Bobfest!

  • Terry Rawnsley

    How about “Fred” or “Earl?”

  • Hug Doug

    I would guess “Fred” is not possible because it’s too similar to “Freda” and maybe “Fredrick”

    (1093) Freda
    (5253) Fredclifford
    (23882) Fredcourant
    (133527) Fredearly
    (678) Fredegundis
    (46095) Frederickoby
    (4418) Fredfranklin
    (6375) Fredharris
    (21659) Fredholm
    (19354) Fredkoehler
    (20608) Fredmerlin
    (152641) Fredreed
    (41943) Fredrick
    (11795) Fredrikbruhn
    (20313) Fredrikson
    (11766) Fredseares
    (13859) Fredtreasure
    (5691) Fredwatson
    (22846) Fredwhitaker

    But “Earl” is certainly possible, there’s nothing even close to it!!

    (9950) ESA
    (6191) Eades
    (114156) Eamonlittle
    (3895) Earhart
    (11691) Easterwood

  • DavidR2015

    Parabola ?

  • Hug Doug

    That name is available! I might suggest Parabolicarc as a name, Mr. Messier may want to submit that!

  • DavidR2015

    We have to be careful. We aren’t allowed names that advertise anything. So we’d have to justify it by saying on earth items acting under the influence of gravity can follow a parabola. (Noting that bodies in the solar system follow elipses rather then parabolas.)
    The only downside is that hyperbola is also available and I think that the two names together might be better for a pair of objects (main body plus satellite, or some kind of binary object) rather than a single object.

  • Hug Doug

    Ahh, that very much makes sense.