NASA Under Fire For Nazi-Linked Asteroid Name

The choice of name given to an asteroid by NASA is being condemned over Nazi connotations.

NASA made history on January 1, when its spacecraft New Horizons made the furthest planetary fly-by ever.

New Horizons flew past the asteroid (486958) 2014 MU69 - or as it's commonly known, Ultima Thule.

READ MORE: NASA Travels To Most Distant World Ever Explored By Humans

But it's this name which is causing problems.

Thule is referred to in ancient Greek and Roman mythology as being the 'farthest place north'.

'Ultima Thule', meaning most distant North, is mentioned in the poem Aeneid written by Roman poet Virgil.

In 1918, the Thule Society was created by German occultist Rudolf von Sebottendorff, and this society famously sponsored the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei -- which was later to become the Nazi Party.

Thule Society poster, 1919.

The Thule Society, named after the mythical land from Greco-Roman literature, believed in the Aryan race, and one of its goals was to prove 'Aryans' came from a lost continent, or Ultima Thule.

The Society was notably against against Jews and Communism in Germany, and appropriated the swastika as one of its symbols.

The swastika is still used today by far-right groups around the world.

NASA chose the name Ultima Thule after a opening suggestion forum to the public in 2017.

"NASA and the New Horizons team are pleased to announce that our target body in the Kuiper Belt, formally known as "(486958) 2014 MU69", is being nicknamed Ultima Thule," NASA announced in March 2018.

"The name was nominated independently by about 40 participants in the Frontier Worlds campaign, and was ranked very highly in the voting."

The name is being criticised with many claiming NASA is turning a blind-eye to its connotations with alt-right beliefs and Nazi links.

Feature Image: AAP/ NASA