Uwingu raises money for research through exoplanet names

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, December 06, 2012

Planetary scientist Alan Stern has a name familiar to readers of Astronomy for a long, long time. He’s long been a contributor and a member of the magazine’s editorial advisory board. He has been involved in many space missions, such as the New Horizons mission to Pluto, of which he is principal investigator. Frustrated with the difficulty of astronomy and science funding, earlier this year Stern started his own company, Uwingu, that will raise funds for astronomical research.

“Other sciences all have a major spectrum of organizations and institutions to draw on,” says Stern, unhappy with major cutbacks in funding. “But astronomy pretty much has the National Science Foundation and a few other sources, and that’s it.”

And so Stern came up with the idea of creating a B Corporation, a business that does things for social good, with the idea of funding astronomical and space research and exploration. So was born Uwingu LLC (the company name is the Swahili word for sky).

The company’s first online product is a “baby book of planet names” for the more than 160 billion or more planets astronomers now estimate inhabit our galaxy. For $0.99, anyone can submit a name to this database or vote for a name already in it.

“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,” says Stern. “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.”

The entire staff here is participating, so don’t be surprised if you see our names on the list. To add yours, check out www.uwingu.com.

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