Last January, NASA’s New Horizons probe flew past an icy space rock designated nearly four billion miles beyond Pluto. The rock, dubbed 2014 MU69, is the most distant cosmic body ever surveyed by a human spacecraft. At the time, the team nicknamed the object Ultima Thule after a mythical northern land beyond the borders of the known world. But the name didn’t stick due to its usage in Nazi ideology.
This week, NASA announced that the official name for 2014 MU69 will be Arrokoth, which is the word for “sky” in the Powhatan and Algonquian languages. The name was bestowed with the consent of tribal elders and representatives. “The name ‘Arrokoth’ reflects the inspiration of looking to the skies and wondering about the stars and worlds beyond our own,” planetary scientist Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator, says in a statement.