Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be an astronaut. Star Wars and Star Trek had me longing for a time when I could traverse the universe and see all manner of new planets and species of people. And when I started playing Mass Effect… my desire to go into space has only increased.

Unfortunately, that’s still not a reality just yet. But that doesn’t mean that scientists are thinking ahead. We’ve discovered hundreds of other planets in our galaxy, and a new campaign aims to start giving popular names to them.

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Uwingu, a start-up space-funding company comprised of astronomers, planetary scientists and former space program executives, announced it’s “Adopt-a-Planet” effort on May 1. They’re asking the public to propose and vote on names for the alien planets outside of our solar system.

Any suggestion that receives at least 1,000 votes earns its nominator the chance to “adopt” (and name) the planet of his or her choice. Winners will also receive an adoption certificate, links to detailed information about the adopted planet and $100 in Uwingu store credits, according to company officials.

Nominating a name costs about $5, and voting will cost you a buck. Uwingu will use the money raised by Adopt-a-Planet to fund grants in space exploration, research and education, which is the company’s main purpose, CEO Alan Stern, a former NASA science chief who also heads the agency’s New Horizons mission to Pluto, told SPACE.com.

There has been some controversy surrounding the contest, and I can see why.

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As awesome as this is, it’s a bit narcissistic to think that we have the right to just name a bunch of planets. Sure, it’s easier to call them Vulcan or  Nabu rather than 132524 APL. But what happens when we have the ability to travel out of our solar system and actually travel to these planets? What if there are intelligent life inhabiting them? How high and mighty will we seem when they find out that humans named their planet based on a voting system when they’d lived there for millions of years?

Despite this, I think it’s great that Uwingu is trying to get the public involved in science and space. In a time when it seems like logic is treated like heresy and science is seen as fiction rather than fact, we need more people interested in the universe.

Should we be naming alien planets? What would you name one?

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Emily

Co-Founder at Wrong Button Media
Emily Kelley is a writer, actress, video game junkie, comic book nerd, and future galactic war hero. She lives in Los Angeles and spends most of her time at the Disney Interactive office. Along with being a multiple award winning journalist, she is an avid RPGer, cosplay noob, and mother to two beautiful cats.
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