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Mon Dec 31, 2018, 10:11 AM

New Horizons heads for flyby of space rock 4bn miles from Earth

Probe could get as close as 2,200 miles from Ultima Thule before beaming back images

A Nasa probe will perform the most distant flyby in history in the early hours of New Year’s Day when it barrels past a space rock called Ultima Thule on the outer edge of the solar system.

Unless gremlins intervene, the New Horizons spacecraft will zoom by the cosmic body at 5.33am GMT and snap thousands of photographs of the dark, icy body as it speeds on into the void.

Ultima Thule lies 4bn miles from Earth in the Kuiper belt, a band of dwarf planets, space rocks and icy debris left over from the formation of the solar system 4.6bn years ago.

New Horizons is so distant that mission scientists have no way of helping out if any last-minute glitches arise. Instead, any final troubleshooting must be handled by the probe’s onboard software.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Hal Weaver, a research professor at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and a project scientist on the New Horizons mission. “This is another great step in the exploration of our solar system.”

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/dec/31/new-horizons-heads-for-flyby-of-space-rock-ultima-thule

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Reply New Horizons heads for flyby of space rock 4bn miles from Earth (Original post)
turbinetree Dec 2018 OP
manor321 Dec 2018 #1
sl8 Dec 2018 #2
Igel Dec 2018 #3

Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 10:20 AM

1. That is 12:33 AM on the east coast of the US

 

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 10:54 AM

2. Countdown:

Time remaining, distance remaining, trip elapsed time:

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu

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Response to sl8 (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 02:52 PM

3. I find the hoopla amusing.

There'll be this big celebration at the time of flyby.

But no information from the flyby is even possible until hours afterwards.

Even then, much of the juiciest information will be transmitted later.

A bit of space rock could come flying along and splat New Horizons just before flyby, we'd all celebrate, and then realize that it was being splatted as we toasted its great success. It's unlikely, given KB densities, but with a greater than zero chance.

I would find that truly sad.

I'd also find it amusing.

Then again, all we'd know hours after the event is that there was signal loss, and months later, when NH was pronounced "lost" any amusement value would be nil. And somebody would have to say, in all seriousness, "No, no! It was picked up by the Blaringioid Fleet from Iota Camelopardalis VI." No, wait, nobody ever uses the constellation Camelopardalis in science fiction. And they seldom get to "zeta," much less "iota".

Nonetheless, we must have a social media presence.

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