MU69 is 1.6 billion kilometres from Pluto, noted Nasa.
So that's where you come in. Astronomers are trying to learn all they can about this little body in the Kuiper Belt before the spacecraft's January 1, 2019 encounter.
So think of some unique, crazy, and wacky names that this tiny world should be called. Instead, the agency and the New Horizons team will review the names with the most votes and choose their favorite. Polls close at 3 p.m. EST on December 1.
Remember NASA's New Horizons spacecraft and its unbelievable pictures of Pluto back in 2015? No doubt to avoid the chaos surrounding the UK Natural Environment Research Council's (NERC) name game for a research vessel they eventually dubbed - yawn - "RRS Sir David Attenborough", NASA's just letting us pick the world a new nickname to replace the current one, "MU69". It's heading toward the Kuiper Belt, a ring-shaped region beyond Neptune's orbit that contains dwarf planets like Pluto and perhaps several hundred thousand other icy bodies. "We are pleased to draw the attention of the public to this exciting mission of discovery".
NASA doesn't know much about (486958) 2014 MU69, aka Pluck, aka Peanut, aka Rocky McRockface - that's the whole point of sending New Horizons to study it.
Among names nominated by participants is "Pangu", which some Chinese mythologies recognize as the first ever living being. "We are hoping that somebody out there proposes the ideal, inspiring name for MU69". The winning name or names will be announced in early January. The form, located at the bottom of the page, asks for one or more names, the reason behind the nomination and a link to more information about the submitted names. "Until then, we're excited to bring people into the mission and share in what will be an wonderful flyby on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, 2019!"
After the flyby, NASA will work to formalize the object's new designation with the International Astronomical Union, which oversees the naming of all celestial objects.
If the spacecraft has sufficient fuel after the MU69 flyby, it may visit yet another Kuiper Belt Object adding another extension to a mission that continues to exceed expectations. "Our close encounter with MU69 adds another chapter to this mission's remarkable story".
"New Horizons has always been about pure exploration, shedding light on new worlds like we've never seen before", Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator, said in NASA's release.