Students worldwide have an opportunity to name an asteroid from which an upcoming NASA mission will return the first samples to Earth. Scheduled to launch in 2016, the mission is called the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx).
The competition is open to students under age 18 from anywhere in the world. Each contestant can submit one name, up to 16 characters long. Entries must include a short explanation and rationale for the name. Submissions must be made by an adult on behalf of the student. The contest deadline is Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012.
A panel will review proposed asteroid names. First prize will be awarded to the student who recommends a name that is approved by the International Astronomical Union Committee for Small-Body Nomenclature.
The contest is a partnership with The Planetary Society in Pasadena, Calif.; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington; and the University of Arizona in Tucson.
"Asteroids are just cool and deserve a cool name!" said Bill Nye, chief executive officer for The Planetary Society. "Engaging kids around the world in a naming contest will get them tuned in to asteroids and asteroid science."
To see a video explanation about the contest, click HERE