Asking the public to name such an expedition may have been a mistake.
Surely, they must have seen it coming. A space exploration enthusiast account on Twitter asked the internet to name an upcoming mission to the planet Uranus, in what almost feels like a setup for a punch line, considering the public's endless interest in potty humor and butt-related puns.
And yes, it went somewhat viral, in a hail of scatological references. Naturally, OGN's sense of decency precludes us from publishing any of the name (or sponsorship) recommendations, but(t) jokes aside, there are serious implications of this kind of humor.
"I truly do worry that it will make it difficult to actually get a mission to study this planet because I think that NASA would be sensitive to these headlines," prominent Space Science Institute and Planetary Society astronomer Heidi Hammel told Futurism last year, "and sensitive to all the ridicule that they would get if they wanted to get a mission to this planet."
"We do want to send atmospheric probes, and we do call them probes, and it's impossible to separate that from the whole aliens probing humans thing," she added. But fortunately, many replies to the viral tweet included far more sensible names that we could actually see NASA using for an upcoming mission.
Several users suggested naming the mission after British astronomer William Herschel, who discovered the celestial body and its moons Titania and Oberon back in the 1700s.
And since Uranus' moons are named after Shakespearean characters, many other users suggested naming the mission "Tempest" after one of the bard's plays.
So, if NASA ever embarks on such a mission it surely will not be asking the public for their ideas for a name. We all remember Boaty McBoatFace.
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