Queen's Brian May joins other astronomers to watch New Horizons flyby

Queen's Brian May joins other astronomers to watch New Horizons flyby

Queen's Brian May joins other astronomers to watch New Horizons flyby

It is located in the Kuiper Belt, a huge asteroid belt that surrounds our solar system and contains the leftovers of the system's formation.

"New Horizons will continue in that legacy", Stern wrote.

At 3:15 pm EST, the first science data will arrive from the craft, including a grainy image just 100 pixels across. EVER, " tweeted the project's lead scientist, Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute.

The New Horizons mission was extended in 2016 to visit this Kuiper Belt object. "There are a lot ideas and every one of them might be wrong".

"Who knows what we might find?".

The encounter with Ultima is among the more hard feats NASA has attempted.

Although the flyby occurred at 12:33 a.m. ET on Tuesday, the spacecraft is so far from Earth that the "phone-home" signal didn't reach us until about 10:30 a.m. ET.

And even the U.S. government shutdown couldn't stop NASA from celebrating such an extraordinary feat. The flyby will be covered on the lab's website, its YouTube channel and NASA TV. "We are straining the capabilities of this spacecraft", Stern said at a news conference Monday. This "light curve" is the changes in brightness over time that New Horizons should pick up from Ultima Thule, as it rotates in space and the different features on its surface reflect back different amounts of light from the Sun (even at its far distance). "If we want to know where we come from, we must study these objects", said Lori Glaze, acting director for the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters. Tuesday's encounter took place 1.6 billion kilometers past Pluto, some 6.5 billion kilometers from Earth.

There is no champagne in this dim and distant region, where a halo of icy worlds called the Kuiper belt circles the outermost edge of the solar system. By then, it'll be time to think about New Horizons' next potential encounter with another Kuiper Belt object yet to be identified.

These bodies are time capsules, preserved in a deep freeze for the past 4.6 billion years. Subsequent observations suggest it is small - no more 20 miles across - and peanut shaped. There's even the slight possibility that it might be two objects closely orbiting one another, although this is considered to be less likely, the AP reported.

The encounter with Ultima Thule will be brief and technically demanding, even more so than New Horizons' Pluto flyby. All in all, New Horizons will collect 50 gigabits of data, as compared to the 55 gigabits collected at Pluto.

The closest approach, which brought New... As New Horizons speeds through space at 9 miles per second, it will take less than a day to turn Ultima Thule back into a speck in the rear view mirror.

"This really just starts with the downlink and transmissions that begin tomorrow, and will last for a year-and-a-half", he said. Clearer pictures are not expected for hours given the vast distance (bottom right the spacecraft's path).

Stern emphasized the uncertainties associated with the flyby and the inability to deal with any problems as the spacecraft is pushed to its limits. "You can't get any better than that".

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