NASAs New Horizons to reach most distant object on New Years eve

NASAs New Horizons to reach most distant object on New Years eve

NASAs New Horizons to reach most distant object on New Years eve

Following its successful 2015 flyby, NASA managed to extend the New Horizon's expedition.

The New Horizons flyby is planned for January 1, 2019, and it will continue its research on the Kuiper Belt till 2021.

Pelletier said scientists estimate Ultima Thule to be about the same size as Washington D.C.

The spacecraft will fly as close as 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) to Ultima Thule, which is only about 20 miles (30 kilometers) long. New Horizons will have its scientific instruments pointing toward the object, measuring its color, composition, thermal signature, and other properties. NASA was still scanning Ultima for moons and rings in mid-December before committing to a flyby that will take New Horizons three times closer than it came to Pluto.

Call it the little spacecraft that could. change what we know about our galaxy.

The flyby of Ultima Thule is going to be quite the challenge, since the object is so small and hard to track from Earth. At that distance, there wasn't as much of the material that formed the planets of the inner Solar System. The object name is Ultima Thule and it lies on the edge of our solar system in the Kuiper Belt.

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The mission will create a number of additional firsts, as this will be the most distant flyby we've attempted.

The flyby takes place 2,200 miles from Ultima Thule ({486958} 2014 MU69), orbiting four billion miles from the Sun.

"We've been taking images of Ultima Thule ever since August from onboard the spacecraft, but it's just a dot in the distance that grows brighter and brighter and brighter".

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will intercept the most distant and ancient space object yet on New Year's day.

"That's what keeps me up at night", said Marc Buie, who talked with TPR in February about executing occultations for the New Horizons mission, "is it gonna be there when we get there?"

The irregular-shaped rock was first discovered using the Hubble Telescope in June 2014, long after New Horizons left Earth back in January 2006 when Pluto was still considered a planet. Like Pluto, it sits in the remote Kuiper Belt, the vast, icy, realm which is believed to contain many dwarf planets and other frozen detritus from the creation of the solar system.

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"We expect to have an image with nearly 10,000 pixels on Ultima ready for release on January 2", Dr Stern said. Those is circular orbits like Ultima Thule have remained there throughout the solar system's 4.5 billion year history in temperatures close to absolute zero.

The Voyager spacecraft made their way above and below the Kuiper Belt in the 1990s, but were "blissfully unaware" of its existence.

At today's briefing, Stern, Missions Operations Manager Alice Bowman and Science Operations Manager Kelsi Singer were asked what they expect it to look like.

"At 32,000 miles an hour, if we hit something as small as a rice pellet, it would destroy the spacecraft - that would be the equivalent of hitting a Mack truck on the highway", Stern said. By New Year's Eve, it will fill 1,000 pixels.

"There's a lot of future exploration ahead for New Horizons".

"To me, that is what's most exciting-this is pure exploration and fundamental science".

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