New Horizons Spaceship Nearing Unique Encounter with Ultima Thule on January 1

Mindy Sparks
December 29, 2018

We can make some inferences based on what we know about the Kuiper Belt, though. Flying beyond Pluto, the spacecraft will whish into the space streaming to the ancient relic of the solar system. Beyond that, everything New Horizons sees will be a completely new discovery.

The objects in the Kuiper Belt are extremely cold - a mere 35 degrees Kelvin above absolute zero.

- The spacecraft that whizzed past Pluto back in the summer of 2015 has continued travelling deep into our solar system and is ready to explore an even more distant and mysterious object on New Year's Day.

Now the New Year is going to be more special for the space-savvy creatures as NASA's New Horizon Spacecraft will fly by the minor planet nicknamed Ultima Thule. That's about the distance between Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., with Ultima Thule appearing about as large to New Horizons as the full moon does to observers on Earth, Stern said.

History will be made as this flyby will make Ultima Thule the farthest object in the Solar System ever to be visited by a spacecraft. The objective of the survey was to find an object worthy of study by New Horizons, and scientists know very little about it.

As we approach the probe's arrival at Ultima Thule, NASA is announcing its schedule of events related to the probe's flyby.


If all goes well, New Horizons will zip by Ultima Thule on New Year's Day at 12:33 a.m. EST (0533 GMT) at a whopping 39,000 miles per hour (62,764 km/h). "Our spacecraft is heading beyond the limits of the known worlds, to what will be this mission's next achievement". It was able to detect and focus on Ultima Thule only by using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, as the rock is too small and faint to visualize with telescopes available on Earth. Ultima is 100 times smaller than Pluto, and Pluto is about the size of the United States.

"In effect, Ultima should be a valuable window into the early stages of planet formation and what the solar system was like over 4.5 billion years ago".

Deputy NASA New Horizons scientist Dr Cathy Olkin said: "From Ultima's orbit, we know that it is the most primordial object ever explored".

On the very first day of 2019, the New Horizons will reach Ultima Thule, where it will capture detailed images and collect useful data as a part of the most distant exploration of a space object till date. As distant as it is, Pluto is barely in the Kuiper Belt, the so-called Twilight Zone stretching beyond Neptune.

As mentioned, the 6.5 billion mile distance means that signals from New Horizons take about six hours to reach Earth. And we can learn its composition.

Ultima Thule will be getting more prominent within the sights of New Horizons as LORRI will fly by Ultima at more than 32,000mph.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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