Update: Thanks to Michal I realized that it is the International Astronomical Union (IAU) that is the “recognized authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies”. All NASA references have been changed accordingly. However, I still love the NASA for producing and offering royalty-free content.
This week, I encountered something that made me love the International Astronomical Union (IAU): “9882 Stallman”. A main-belt asteroid that is named after Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software movement, the GNU project, the GPL and much more. He, aehm, it was discovered on September 28, 1994.
But #RMS is not the only person who is the name-giving patron of an asteroid. So, I digged a bit deeper and found the IAU as friends and supporters of software freedom. In chronological order of their discovery, I also found “9965 GNU” (Discovered 1992-03-05), “9885 Linux” (Discovered 1994-10-12) and “9793 Torvalds” (Discovered 1996-01-16).
After all, I think this is a nice tribute to Free Software and its importance for the technological infrastructure everybody uses every day – including science, business, society as well as space discovery. And in contrast, I was not able to find any asteroid who is named after non-free software systems or prominent people out of the non-free software world: There is no Apple, no Windows, no Jobs, no Gates, no Ballmer, no Zuckerberg … Now, I love the outer space!
And I hope that other scientific areas also understand the importance of Free Software just as the IAU does.
Ah, maybe I missed some asteroids? In case you find any interesting name in their database that I do not list here, please leave a comment.
there is also “13926 Berners-Lee”. And his asteroid was discovered and named after him already on 2nd Dececember 1986. That’s visionary.