Pharos of Alexandria was the name of a lighthouse considered to be one of the wonders of the ancient world. It led travelers to the city, which housed a library containing much of the knowledge of the ancient world. Similarly, MU69 is leading us to knowledge of the ancient past.
“Pinnacle” has two meanings related to the New Horizons mission. It means “a high, pointed rock”, an appropriate description of MU69. It also means “culmination, a point of greatest achievement or success”, which describes the long journey of the New Horizons spacecraft to this destination.
Pluck & Persistence
These are two remarkable attributes of the New Horizons spacecraft after traveling 4 billion miles to Jupiter, Pluto and its five moons, and soon MU69.
Idiomatically, “crossing the Rubicon” is to take an irrevocable step outward, often one which will strongly influence future events. The phrase originates from Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon, a river in northern Italy, in 49 BCE.
We are viewing MU69 in front of the constellation Sagittarius. Sagittarius is a centaur, half man and half horse, from Greco-Roman mythology.
Sharazad (Scheherazade) is a legendary storyteller who, through years of gathering knowledge of the world, achieved longevity for herself and the others around her. MU69 has also survived unscathed as an orbiting time capsule, and it will soon tell us stories about our past.
Tangotango & Tawhaki
In Maori legend, Tawhaki is a great hero who climbs into the heavens for his wife, the celestial goddess Tangotango. In some tales, Tangotango is a creation goddess, mother of the sun and moon. Tawhaki’s climb to the heavens parallels the outward journey of New Horizons, and Tangotango’s story parallels MU69’s role as a witness to the formation of the solar system.
Terra Nova literally means “new land” or “new Earth”, making it an apt nickname for MU69. Among its many usages, the 1910 Terra Nova Expedition was one of the first journeys across Antarctica to the South Pole.
Tiamat & Abzu
In Babylonian mythology, Tiamat and Abzu are the primordial gods of the salt sea and fresh water. Their marriage creates the cosmos. The story echoes our modern understanding that water plays a critical role in the origin of life on Earth. Their names are perfect for a binary object. The connection to a creation myth makes them eligible as the permanent name(s) for MU69.
A cold Italian dessert to enjoy following a main course. Similarly, MU69 is our small, frozen treat following the feast that was the Pluto encounter. Note that the brown color of Tiramisu might be a good match for the dark, reddish tint of MU69.
Capital planet in Isaac Asimov‘s Foundation series of science fiction novels. The Library of Trantor indexed the entirety of human knowledge.
A distant, unknown land; the extreme limit of travel or discovery. Thule (pronounced thoo-lee) was a mythical, far-northern island in medieval literature and cartography. Ultima Thule means “beyond Thule”, i.e., beyond the borders of the known world. MU69 is humanity’s next ultima Thule.
Also known as Ayers Rock, Uluru is the largest individual rock on planet Earth, an inselberg or “island mountain.” It is about one tenth the size of MU69. Uluru is featured prominently in the origin myths of Australia’s native peoples, and so is appropriate as the destination for our mission to understand the origins of our solar system.
Wynken, Blynken, & Nod
Three children who boarded a wooden shoe at night and went sailing and fishing across a sea of stars, from a popular 1889 children’s poem by Eugene Field. An evocative image for New Horizons sailing toward MU69.
Z’ha’dum is a fictional planet from the TV series Babylon 5 (1994–1997). Like MU69, it is a very distant world, although Z’ha’dum is located at the edge of the galaxy, rather than at the edge of our solar system.