Asteroid Named for “Disappeared” Argentinian Astronomical Student

The International Astronomical Union’s Committee on Small Body Nomenclature decided that it was appropriate to name an asteroid in the heavens between Mars and Jupiter “Anadiego”. The asteroid bears the name of Ana Teresa Diego, a budding Astronomy student who disappeared without a trace during Argentina’s brutal military regime.

Argentina was ruled by a ruthless military dictatorship from 1976-1983. During this time thousands of dissidents were abducted from their homes and tortured before being summarily executed. Most were buried in unmarked graves, while a great deal of them were drugged and flown hundreds of miles off the coast of Argentina and thrown out of the planes alive. Only 510 bodies have been identified out of the more than 30,000 that disappeared.

Naming the asteroid after Ana Diego, has helped her mother fill a void that has existed ever since her daughter disappeared. The asteroid is the first to be named after one of the “disappeared” dissidents from Argentina.

He mother who penned an open letter to her daughter wrote:

“”My dearest daughter, at last I can write to you, now that I have a place to find you: Asteroid 11441, between Mars and Jupiter. I never found out where Ana’s body was,” she said. “Now I know that she is in an asteroid with her name. Not only her, but all of the disappeared.”

Ana was only 22 at the time of her disappearance. One of her professors, Adrian Brunini, told the Associate Press that he felt it was appropriate to name the asteroid after Ana, due to her love of astronomy and that she died fighting for her ideals. Is was no coincidence that he chose asteroid 11441, which was discovered in 1975 by Argentine astronomer Mario Cesco.

The naming committee usually avoids naming asteroids after political dissidents, but makes exceptions for those fighting for human rights. Asteroids have been named for anti-Nazi dissidents and for other people who died in the name of freedom.

The only Latin American member of the committee, Angel Fernandez, found it fitting that the asteroid be named after not just a member of the disappeared, but a member from that group that represented the scientific community.

Do you think that it is fitting to name an asteroid after Ana Teresa Diego?