Whenever a planet trends on Twitter, I have to check it out. Uranus popped up in my feed over the weekend because a lot of people thought
had asked the public to come up with names for a mission to the ice giant. Here's what actually went down.
A Twitter account called Ice Giant Missions, which isn't affiliated with NASA, advocates for probes to visit Uranus and Neptune. It asked the internet to come up with names for a possible Uranus probe. The Saturday tweet came with a nice graphic featuring a NASA meatball logo in the corner.
Ice Giant Missions is clear in its Twitter bio that it's not affiliated with NASA, so the tweet was more an exercise in creativity and engagement. Butt who wouldn't want to name a Uranus mission? The account gathered some of the finest suggestions, both serious and silly.
I'm going to call out my favorites. From the straight-faced side, I'm down for MUSE (Mission Uranus Science Expedition) or Earhart for pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart. Another cool idea is Tempest, in honor of how most of the planet's moons are named for Shakespeare characters.
Now let's get to the names you've been waiting for. Those range from the somewhat subtle (Deep Dive, Charmin, Seymore Butts) to creative acronyms like Research Education Charging Towards Uranus Mission (Rectum) and Planetary Orbital Observations Probe (POOP). My personal favorite? Our Anus, a lovely tribute to how space missions can bring humanity together despite our differences.
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Uranus doesn't have the allure of rocky Mars, scenically stormy Jupiter or ringed Saturn, but it's a fascinating planet worthy of study. NASA hasn't green-lighted a Uranus mission, but researchers have proposed one called the Uranus Orbiter and Probe. UOP seems to have very carefully avoided any chance of attaching juvenile humor to its name.
It's unlikely NASA would turn to the public to name a Uranus mission if one does happen. We're not to be trusted. It's not just Uranus' name that earns the jokes. It turns out the planet smells like farts and rotten eggs for real.