Uwingu Kicking Off 'Adopt-A-Planet' Campaign
May 2, 2013

Uwingu Kicking Off ‘Adopt-A-Planet’ Campaign

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

Uwingu announced on Wednesday the launch of the world's first "Adopt-a-Planet" campaign, allowing the public an opportunity to adopt planets.

The space company's new open-ended campaign allows the public to adopt exoplanets in astronomical databases through Uwingu's website. The campaign coincides with its other campaign aimed at naming a planet. Uwingu has asked participants to vote on names for exoplanets, which costs money. Proceeds from the naming and voting will help fund space exploration, research and education.

Astronomers have detected and confirmed over 700 planets orbiting distant stars so far. These exoplanets have been given names like "HD 222582 b," so Unwingu hopes to change this by adding "memorable human-friendly names" like those given to constellations or comets.

"In Uwingu´s Adopt-a-Planet campaign, any nominated name that reaches 1,000 votes will qualify its namer to adopt the exoplanet of their choice with that name," the space company said. "Winners can choose which planet they would like to name from exoplanet lists created by astronomers."

Uwingu said adopters will receive $100 in Uwingu store credits, an adoption certificate, and links to in-depth information about their adopted planet. The first ten names to reach adoption status will receive $500 in Uwingu naming and voting credits.

“This is a great way for the worldwide public to connect to the sky and space!” said Uwingu CEO and astronomer Dr. Alan Stern. “In our Adopt-a-Planet campaign every person who nominates a planet can win, and at their own pace, knowing they are funding space research and education along the way.”

Uwingu's attempt to get the pubic involved in naming exoplanets has been criticized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). IAU is an international astronomical organization of over 10,000 professional astronomers from over 90 countries. The organization said the naming system must work across different languages and cultures in order to support collaborative worldwide research.

“To make this possible, the IAU acts as a single arbiter of the naming process, and is advised and supported by astronomers within different fields,” the IAU said. “As an international scientific organization, it dissociates itself entirely from the commercial practice of selling names of planets, stars or even ℠real estate´ on other planets or moons. These practices will not be recognized by the IAU and their alternative naming schemes cannot be adopted.”

However, Uwingu spoke up and said IAU has no official control over naming popular bodies in the sky. It even said there really is no unified astronomical naming system, and there are plenty of astronomical objects that do not use IAU's naming process.