NASA will make history on the New Year's Day by exploring the farthest object Earth ever taken.
More than one billion kilometers above Pluto, the New Horizons spacecraft is on the way to meeting a space object known as Ultima Thule, as it passes through the Kuiper Valley belt in an extreme outdoor solar system.
Here's what you need to know about the mission when New Horizons approach their goal:
What's New Horizons?
Part of NASA's new boundary project, the space ship New Horizons began in 2006.
The craft was sent in order to explore Pluto – at that time it was considered a planet and the only unexplored in the solar system.
After reaching and exploring the dwarf planet and its moon, Charon, in 2015, New Horizons undertook an additional task for exploring the Kuiper belt, which it will fulfill in the next decade.
Ultima Thule will be the first belt of the Kuiper belt that meets New Horizons, with several other objects planned for future observation.
Where is Ultima Tule?
(486,958) 2014 MU69, nicknamed Ultima Thule, is an object discovered in the Kuiper belt from the Hubble Space Telescope in 2014.
It is estimated to have a diameter of 30 kilometers, of the same size as Washington DC, the building is more than 6.5 billion kilometers from the ground.
There are disagreements over what scientists believe Ultima Thule may look like, with distance-based assessments and luminosity that give it an elongated shape, while the measurements of light are in line with those seen from a spherical body.
Experts say Thule has preserved a remnant of 4.5 billion years ago and can give precious insights into the materials that were present at the beginning of our solar system.
When will the spacecraft make its overflow?
Access is scheduled for Tuesday at 12:33 pm in Eastern Standard Time.
The event will be screened live by NASA TV and the Johns Hopkins University of Applied Physics Laboratory.
NASA will not know if New Horizons survived the flight a few hours after the planned passage due to the distance it will have to travel.
If everything goes according to plan, the first photos of Ultima Thule are likely to be released worldwide on Tuesday.
Canada Frederic Pelletier is the chief spacecraft navigator, a leading team of eight-based John Hopkins.
The new horizons will fly from Ultima Tule at a distance of about 3,500 kilometers, at a speed of 50,000 kilometers per hour.
What further complicates the task is that it takes six hours for signals from the Earth to reach the craft, and another six hours to return.
"When planning maneuvers to make precipitation and upgrades, we need to take this into account," said Pelletheus in a recent interview with The Canadian Press.
With files from the Canadian press
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