At a time when many people are trying to eliminate racist language, the term used to describe the universe is not immune from censorship,media CNET reported. NASA is giving up some unofficial names for galaxies and nebulae as it tries to make them more inclusive.
“As the scientific community works to identify and address systemic discrimination and inequality in all aspects of the field, it is clear that certain cosmic nicknames are not only insensitive, but can be positiveandly harmful,” the space agency said in a statement Wednesday. “NASA is examining its use of unofficial terms for cosmic objects as part of its commitment to diversity, fairness and inclusion.”
NASA gave two examples that it will no longer use the nicknames of some cosmic objects. The planetary nebula NGC 2392 is known as the Eskimo Nebula. The ‘Eskimos’ are widely regarded as a colonial term with a racist history imposed on the indigenous peoples of the Arctic,” NASA explained.
NASA has added a note to an image showing NGC 2392 released in 2008 explaining the decision to remove the nickname.
The agency will also use only the official designations NGC 4567 and NGC 4568 to refer to two spiral galaxies known as “conjoined binary galaxies”.
This re-examination of the names of cosmic objects is still under way. “Our goal is that all names are consistent with our values of diversity and inclusion, and we will be proactive in working with the scientific community to help ensure this,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, deputy director of NASA’s Science Mission. Science serves everyone, and every aspect of our work needs to embody that value. “