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Asteroids named after African American, Hispanic and Native American astronauts

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The new names honor African American, Hispanic, and Native American astronauts and a cosmonaut to inspire the next generation.

This was said by Marc W. Buie, an astronomer who discovered the 27 asteroids NASA it was “an honor and a privilege to name these asteroids in recognition of fellow space explorers, while at the same time adding to the message of the power and value of diversity for all human endeavors.”

Previously, these asteroids were originally named in relation to their position in space, but now José Hernández comes to look up knowing that his asteroid (122554) Joséhernández is in orbit.

Hernández was part of a family of migrant farmers and spent his childhood working in the fields. When he was in high school, Hernandez knew he wanted to be an astronaut, inspired by the work of Franklin Chang-Diaz, the namesake of another of these asteroids, (115015) Chang Diaz. Hernandez then earned two degrees in electrical engineering which he used to develop the first full-field digital mammography imaging system.

Another story is behind the asteroid (103739) Higginbotham.

Retired astronaut Joan Higginbotham in front of a NASA T-38 trainer in 2003.

As an electrical engineer at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Joan Higginbotham played a role in 53 shuttle launches. He even visited space aboard the Discovery shuttle to the International Space Station (ISS), where he served as a mission specialist on an assembly mission.

The 27 asteroids are in a belt between Mars and Jupiter, and the team tasked with naming these asteroids to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) says it plans to continue adding more diverse names to the sky in the future.

You can find the stories and locations of the 27 asteroids here.

Correction: An earlier headline in this story listed the wrong agency that named the asteroids. It is the International Astronomical Union.

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