NASA's new spacecraft is designed to probe worlds farther than ever before when it flew in the MU69 2014 in the early hours of New Year's Day.
The craft gradually made its approach in the past two weeks as NASA scientists carried out a series of orbital tests and corrections to ensure that "new horizons" were on track to gather as much information as possible about the mysterious object –– without crashing into any debris that may be the external lurking of the coming of our solar system.
"This last day seems to have been the most intense for us," said Alice Baumann, director of the APL's new mission activity at APL, CNET said in a CBS News website. "We had these optical navigation measurements approaching much closer, that means a lot of staff was all night."
It also said that the spacecraft would pass within 19 kilometers from its target point, which is about 2,200 miles from the object.
On December 15, the 12 researchers comprising the new tracking team of "Horizon" confirmed that the access path was safe using the long-term Telescopic Telescope Imager (LORRI). If they Was Discovered moons or rings near the Ultima, NASA was choosing a secondary flight path, with new horizons repairing the course flying across the object from a much larger distance.
"The team was in absolute consensus that the spacecraft should stay on a closer course, and mission leadership adopted our recommendation," said Mark Schwallter, the lead risk team.
As it stands, new horizons will fly Ultima Thule from a distance of 3,500 km (about 2,200 km) – its optimal path. To put this into perspective, remember? The cameras of New Horizons shocked them when they flew 12,500 kilometers (about 7,800 kilometers) from the surface of the distant dwarf planet.
Thus, new horizons will approach three times closer to Ultima Thule than it did Pluto and provide NASA researchers with valuable images and scientific data of a world that we know of almost nothing.
On December 26, "New Horizons" entered a "meeting situation," a kind of "safe state" that ensures the scientific goals of the mission will be done even if a malfunction in space. Under normal circumstances, a bug sees the & # 39; horizontal & # 39; Asking for help, but since it now takes 12 hours to perform, it is dangerous to do so when the spacecraft is on the next approach.
In fact, entering a meeting mode means that the spacecraft is on its own now. With thousands of instructions loaded into its onboard computers, it started its gentle dance, 1 billion miles from Pluto.
Two days before we left Ofakim Hadashim, he photographed the highest picture of the distant "world": the dark, pixelated blur shows the ultima hanging in its center, at a distance of 10 million kilometers.
Within a week, this tiny pixel of light in the distance will become a known world. We'll see what it looks like, what it's made of, how cold it is, its mass, and whether it has moons of its own.
New horizons will be photographed literally in the new year by flying across the farthest world we have ever explored, when the closest approach occurs at 12:33 ET on January 1. Although the United States is currently in the midst of an ongoing shutdown of the federal government, it will still be able to capture the live responses and simulations of the flight on the New Horizons site.
, New horizons will invest 2019 on the right track to fly, even then I suggest you bang on the Interstellar Soundtrack on New Year's Eve, settle down and marvel at the new world we are about to reveal.
First published on December 26, 4:23 PT
Updated, December 27, 06:35 PT: Adds that new horizons have come into play and is on track for its historic flyby.
Update, December 31, 8:55 am PT: Adds a note from Task Manager to APL Task.
CNET's Holiday Gift Guide: The place to find the best tech gifts for 2018.
NASA turns 60: The space agency has taken mankind farther than anyone else, and has plans to move on.