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How to see how NASA sends a spacecraft past a rock on the Edge of the Solar System



While you will ring in the new year on Monday night, you can also see it together, while NASA sends a spacecraft with a small rocky rocky planet of 4.1 billion miles from Earth. The New Horizons pilot's trial of the space agency, which flew from Pluto in 2015, will now fly alongside another object – a kind of cosmic rocks that we have never been before. And all this happens exactly as we enter in 2019.

Just like the Flutter Flight, the mission of a new horizon team is assembled at the Johns Hopkins Johns Hopkins Laboratory at Laurel, Maryland, where they will monitor the spacecraft from the mission's mission center. Live streams will show what's on the team before and during the flight, and mission scientists will host press conferences to provide updates about what is New Horizonte.

Because the United States is currently in the midst of a partial shutdown of the government, there has been some confusion over how the public can keep tabs on this record-breaking event. NASA is one of the federal agencies affected by the exclusion, so its "non-essential officials" are overcrowded. These include NASA's Public Affairs Team. For a while, people were afraid that NASA would not be able to display footage of events on its dedicated channel, NASA TV, or update social media accounts.

"It's ironic: NASA makes the most explored research in its history and they got hands tied behind their backs by being caught up in the closure of the government," said Alan Stern, chief researcher of the New Horizons mission On the edge. "We have procedures for defects for almost everything, but we did not think about a defect procedure for the government to shut down during the flight."

However, in the last minute victory, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine posted on Twitter that events will to be shown on NASA television and that the space agency will update the public to the mission with its social media accounts. If you go to the plan, the live stream of NASA TV should come online and for the flight and for the accompanying press conferences. Meanwhile, John Hopkins is not affected by the exclusion, and plans to display the events on her YouTube page. The university also lists a number of links to follow on its website.


Artistic rendering of what Ultima Thule may look like
Picture: NASA

As for the timing of the flight, things started on December 31st, with briefings for journalists at 2:00 ET. Then, around the time of the flight at 12:33 in the morning and on January 1, there will be some celebrations at the Mission Operations Center to honor the event. But at that time, we certainly will not know if everyone is doing well. Radio communication from the spacecraft takes about six hours to reach the Earth, and the New Horizons will not send a signal back to Earth, while a few hours after it will be knocked down by the rock, called Ultima Thule. So sometime between 9:45 and 10:45 ET, the mission team should get that signal that confirms success.

Little after that confirmation, the New Horizons team will host a press conference and will display some images taken from the spacecraft before flying. These images will still be unclear, due to the vehicle's distance from the building. But once the flight signal is received, New Horizons will begin sending their data to Earth, so on January 2nd we need to get the first high resolution images of the space rock.

When New Horizons completes its flight, it will be far from an object like New York City from Los Angeles. From that distance, Ultima Thule will appear as high as the full moon will appear in the sky on Earth. But the new horizons have a couple of high-precision telescopes on the deck, so we need to get detailed photographs in close proximity, similar to the images of the moon carried by powerful telescopes on the ground. "It's an awkward picture, made really fast in a critical time window," says Stern. "If it works, we will have pictures that are more detailed than Pluto from quite a bit."

It will take some time to collect all fruits of flight. New horizons will spend up to 20 months reducing all data they collect on the New Year. So expect to get incredible pictures in the first week – and then a few months later.


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