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NASA The new horizons zoom to Ultima Tule as a historic flight

new horizons-mu69-ultima-thule

Impression of NASA's "New Horizon" spacecraft, which faces Ultima Thule (2014 MU69), a Kuiper Belt object that orbits about one billion miles outside Pluto, on January 1, 2019.

NASA / University of Applied Physics at Johns Hopkins University / Southwestern Research Institute / Steve Griffen

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is set to explore more distant worlds than ever before when flying past 2014 MU69 in the early hours of the New Year.

Craft has gradually made its way over the last two weeks, while NASA scientists have carried out a series of checks and trace corrections to ensure that the New Horizons are on the right track to gather as much information as possible about the mysterious object, nicknamed Ultima Thule, without crashing into any remains that can be lurking in the outer parts of our solar system.

"This last day is probably the most intense for us," said Alice Bowman, mission manager at New Horizons in APL, for CNET's sister site CBS News. "We had these optical navigation measurements come down much closer together, which means that much of the team was all night."

She also said the spacecraft would pass within 19 miles of its target point. It is about 2,200 miles from the building. To put that in perspective, I remember those epic photographs of Pluto? New Horizons cameras torn off while flying 12,500 kilometers from the surface of the distant dwarf planet.

Thus, the New Horizons will come three times closer to Ultima Thule than Pluto did, and allow NASA scientists valuable images and data from the science of a world that we do not know about.


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On December 15, the 12 researchers who make up the hazard horizon for new horizons, confirmed that the access path is secure by using the telescope telescope long-throw performer (LORRI). If they do had discovered moons or rings near Ultima, NASA would opt for a secondary summer trail, with Noah Horizons straightening up and flying beside the building from a far greater distance.

As the New Horizon approaches, Ultima Thule becomes brighter and brighter. Soon, the spacecraft will fly beside the mysterious object at a distance of 2,200 miles from its surface.

NASA / Jones Hopkins Laboratory for Applied Physics / Southwest Research Laboratory / Henry Throne

"The team was in full consensus that the spacecraft should remain on a closer trajectory, and the mission's leadership has accepted our recommendation," said Mark Shoewater, who made it difficult for the team's leadership.

On December 26th, New Horizons entered a mode of meetings, a kind of "safe mode" that ensures that the scientific mission of the mission will be implemented even if the spacecraft does not work. Under normal circumstances, the defect sees the phone at home at New Horizons, seeking help, but since it should now take 12 hours, the risk is to do when the spacecraft is in close access.

Conveniently, entering a mode of meeting means that the spacecraft is now independent. With thousands of instructions loaded in embedded computers, began the delicate dance, billions of miles past Pluto.

Two days before we left New horizons on their own devices, however, he created the image with the highest resolution of the distant "worldlet": the dark, pixelated turbidity below shows Ultima Thule in the center, 10 million kilometers (about 6.3 million miles) away.


The new horizons spotted Ultima Thule (circling) in a high resolution image taken by LORRI on December 24th.

NASA / Jones Hopkins Laboratory of Applied Physics / Southwest Research Institute

Within a week, that small pixel of light in the distance will become a familiar world. We will see how it looks, from whom it is made, how cold it is, its mass and whether it has its moons.

New horizons will literally ring in the New Year by flying past the farthest world we once explored, with the closest approach to appear at 12:33 in the morning and on January 1. Although the United States is currently in the midst of the current closure of the federal government, you will still be able to capture the reactions and simulate simulations of the Web site's flight to the Horizons mission. The data and imagery from the flight are expected later in the New Year, sometime after 11.30 am ET.

After a year of great news for the universeThe new horizons, I hope, will set the 2019 on the right track, so I suggest that you break through the mixed soundtrack on New Year's Eve, to settle down and admire the new world that we discover.

First published December 26, 4:23 am PT
Update, 27 December, 06:35 but. PT: He adds that New Horizons went to a meeting mode and is on the right track for its historic spillover.
Update, December 31, 8:55 PT: Adds a comment from the APL mission operations manager.
Update, December 31, 5:22 pm PT: Adds NASA Live Stream.

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