NASA Asks the Internet to Name a Probe to Uranus. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Automologist MAC can’t stop with the butt puns…

When it comes to getting suggestions from the public to name scientific endeavours, the public rarely takes it seriously. Just remember Boaty McBoatface or the Whale named Mister Splashy Pants. So you can probably imagine the smile that crept over my face yesterday when I saw a tweet asking the public to name the upcoming mission to probe Uranus…Well, I just couldn’t let it slip away unnoticed.

Knowing the Internet’s predilection with potty humour, the tweet almost seemed more of a setup for the inevitable punchlines because butt-related puns are funny, full stop. And yes, the request did go fairly viral in a hail of pun-ladened entries.

One of my favourites was “This seems like the perfect time to get Astroglide to sponsor the mission”; if you don’t know, the contributor was referring to a popular brand of well-known personal lubricant. Operation Butt Plug was probably the most requested, though there were others such as Enema, based on the Greek demigod of underground rivers. Others included Planetary Orbital Observation Probe known by its initials as P.O.O.P and of course, Probey McProbeface also made an appearance.

Quite a few more sensible netizens did question the sanity of the request and more still made sensible suggestions such as Herschel, who was the astronomer who discovered the planet and Titania and Oberon, two of the moons that orbit it. There was also Earhart after the aviation pioneer who was the first to fly across both the Atlantic and Pacific; Tempest, after the Shakespeare play as Titania and Oberon are both characters from that literary work, and Se7en was another suggestion as Uranus is the seventh planet.

All joking aside, probing Uranus is described as a scientific target of the highest priority and for good reason. The moons of Uranus are suspected of holding vast oceans of liquid water with the tantalising prospect of being able to support life. There is also the question as to why Uranus seems to lie on its side or why the planet has two sets of rings.

Unfortunately, the prospect of a mission to Uranus is very far off on the distant horizon and for now, we will just have to settle with creating some more names for the probe to Uranus, such as Pegassus or Touranus or…

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