NASA has named 27 asteroids after Black, Hispanic and Native American astronauts and a cosmonaut to recognize their significant contributions to “expand our horizons beyond Earth and to inspire the next generation of space explorers.”
Among those honored include Stephanie Wilson, Joan Higginbotham, Ed Dwight Jr., José Hernández, and John Herrington.
“It's an honor and a privilege to name these asteroids in recognition of fellow space explorers while also adding to the message of the power and value of diversity for all human endeavors," said Marc W. Buie, an astronomer who discovered the 27 asteroids in the last couple of decades.
Wilson and Higginbotham were both selected in 1996 for NASA’s Astronaut Group 16 and made “significant contributions to space exploration.”
Dwight became the first Black astronaut trainee in 1961 after serving as a test pilot in the Air Force.
Hernández traveled to the International Space Station in 2009, before his trip in space he helped develop the first full-field digital mammography imaging system. He spent his childhood working in the fields in California with his family.
Herrington completed three spacewalks while on a mission to the ISS. He is a member of the Chickasaw Nation.
All 27 asteroids are located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and previously had provisional names with the time of their discovery.
The full list was released by the Minor Planet Center, an organization affiliated with the International Astronomical Union. They handle the “identification, designation and orbit computation for minor planets and other objects,” according to a release from NASA.