Astronomy and space start up UwinguTM announced today the launch of its first commercial project at www.uwingu.com. The project is being launched “in beta testing,” but the public can participate immediately, helping to generate a new source of funds for space exploration, research, and education.
Uwingu’s introductory product is based around a challenge to the people of Earth to create a ‘baby book of planet names’ for the 160 billion or more planets astronomers now estimate inhabit our galaxy—the Milky Way.
Uwingu will use proceeds from this project and future ones to create a grant fund space researchers, space educators, and project tams can apply to.
Uwingu planet name nominations are just $0.99; there is no limit on the number of nominations a person or entity can sponsor. Associated with planet name nominations, Uwingu also announced a contest to determine the 1,000 most popular planet names in the database, which will be communicated to planet hunting astronomers for consideration. Votes also cost just $0.99.
Uwingu’s CEO and founder Dr. Alan Stern, adds, “This is a whole new way for the people of Earth, of every age, of every nation, of every walk of life to creatively connect to space! You can nominate planet names for your favorite town, state, or country, your favorite sports team, music artist, or hero, your favorite author or book, your school, your company, for your loved ones and friends, or even for yourself. And tell your friends about the names you nominate, so they can help vote them to the top! It’s fun, it’s social, and it’s for a great cause.”
Uwingu adviser and leading planet hunter, Dr. Geoff Marcy of the University of California at Berkeley adds, “The many, many planets discovered across the galaxy in past 20 years are a tribute to our natural human desire to explore beyond the horizon. Now people all over the world can participate in these discoveries in a new way, giving identities and even personality to billions of planets in our galaxy for the first time.”
Reflecting on the education components of Uwingu’s planet name nomination product, Uwingu education officer Dr. Emily CoBabe concluded, “At Uwingu, we think that it’s important that kids learn, as well as play! So we want to make Uwingu a place where teachers can stop by to get the best and most up-to-date space education materials. Not only can kids have fun suggesting names for planets, but we’ve got a suite of great activities that focus on extrasolar planets for both middle and elementary school students.”