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New Horizons Kuiper Belt Fly-by


Waspie_Dwarf
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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Hibernation Over, New Horizons Continues Its Kuiper Belt Cruise

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A long summer break ended for NASA's New Horizons on Sept. 11, as the spacecraft "woke" itself on schedule from a five-month hibernation period.

Signals confirming that New Horizons had executed on-board computer commands to exit hibernation reached mission operations at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland, via NASA's Deep Space Network station in Madrid, Spain, at 12:55 p.m. EDT. Mission Operations Manager Alice Bowman of APL confirmed that the spacecraft was in good health and operating normally, with all systems coming back online as expected.

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

New Horizons Corrects Its Course in the Kuiper Belt

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NASA's New Horizons spacecraft carried out a short, 2.5-minute engine burn on Saturday, Dec. 9 that refined its course toward 2014 MU69, the ancient Kuiper Belt object it will fly by a little more than a year from now.

Setting a record for the farthest spacecraft course correction to date, the engine burn also adjusted the arrival time at MU69 to optimize flyby science.

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Does New Horizons’ Next Target Have a Moon?

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Scientists were already excited to learn this summer that New Horizons’ next flyby target – a Kuiper Belt object a billion miles past Pluto -- might be either peanut-shaped or even two objects orbiting one another. Now new data hints that 2014 MU69 might have orbital company: a small moon. 

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Spend Next New Year’s Eve with New Horizons

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The New Year’s celebration to usher in 2019 will include an event like no other – more than four billion miles from Earth.

In just under a year – shortly after midnight Eastern Time on Jan. 1, 2019 – NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will buzz by the most primitive and most distant object ever explored. New Horizons’ encounter with Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, which orbits a billion miles beyond Pluto, will offer the first close-up look at such a pristine building block of the solar system – and will be performed in a region of deep space that was practically unknown just a generation ago.  

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

The PI's Perspective: Why Didn't Voyager Explore the Kuiper Belt?

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New Horizons is in good health and cruising closer each day to our next encounter, an end-of-the-year flyby of the Kuiper Belt object (KBO) 2014 MU69 (or "MU69" for short). Currently, the spacecraft is hibernating while the mission team plans the MU69 flyby. During hibernation, three of the instruments on New Horizons—SWAP, PEPSSI and SDC—collect data every day on the charged particle, ionized plasma and dust environment in the Kuiper Belt at a solar distance of 41-42 astronomical units (AU), where our spacecraft is traveling. (1 AU is the distance from the Earth to the Sun, about 93 million miles or 140 million kilometers; for comparison, Pluto is about 34 AU from the Sun, so we're about 750 million miles farther out than Pluto now.)

A role of all NASA mission principal investigators is to communicate with the public. I typically give 20 to 30 public New Horizons talks per year, and a question I used to get a lot is whether Voyager could have explored Pluto. I addressed that really interesting question in this column in June 2014, shortly before our Pluto encounter began.

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

New Horizons Chooses Nickname for 'Ultimate' Flyby Target

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As NASA's New Horizons mission continues exploring the unknown, the mission team has selected a highly appropriate nickname for its next flyby target in the outer reaches of the solar system.

With substantial public input, the team has chosen "Ultima Thule" (pronounced ultima thoo-lee") for the Kuiper Belt object the New Horizons spacecraft will explore on Jan. 1, 2019. Officially known as 2014 MU69, the object, which orbits a billion miles beyond Pluto, will be the most primitive world ever observed by spacecraft – in the farthest planetary encounter in history.

arrow3.gif  Read More: NASA/JHUAPL

 

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

New Horizons Wakes for Historic Kuiper Belt Flyby

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NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is back "awake" and being prepared for the farthest planetary encounter in history – a New Year's Day 2019 flyby of the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule.

Cruising through the Kuiper Belt more than 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers) from Earth, New Horizons had been in resource-saving hibernation mode since Dec. 21. Radio signals confirming that New Horizons had executed on-board computer commands to exit hibernation reached mission operations at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, via NASA's Deep Space Network at 2:12 a.m. EDT on June 5.

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On 6/11/2018 at 7:15 AM, Myles said:

Amazing stuff.   That is a long road trip.

Four billion miles is definitely a helluva road trip.  Great news that NH woke in good health and is ready to go and hopefully she gets another target after MU69.  The little ship that could,.:D

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Ultima in View: NASA’s New Horizons Makes First Detection of Kuiper Belt Flyby Target

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NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has made its first detection of its next flyby target, the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule, more than four months ahead of its New Year's 2019 close encounter.

Mission team members were thrilled – if not a little surprised – that New Horizons’ telescopic Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) was able to see the small, dim object while still more than 100 million miles away, and against a dense background of stars. Taken Aug. 16 and transmitted home through NASA’s Deep Space Network over the following days, the set of 48 images marked the team’s first attempt to find Ultima with the spacecraft's own cameras.

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  • The title was changed to New Horizons Kuiper Belt Fly-by
Posted (IP: Staff) ·

New Horizons Sets Up for New Year's Flyby of Ultima Thule

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NASA's New Horizons spacecraft carried out a short engine burn on Oct. 3 to home in on the location and timing of its New Year's flyby of the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule.

Word from the spacecraft that it had successfully performed the 3½-minute maneuver reached mission operations at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, at around 10:20 p.m. EDT. The maneuver slightly tweaked the spacecraft's trajectory and bumped its speed by 2.1 meters per second – just about 4.6 miles per hour – keeping it on track to fly past Ultima (officially named 2014 MU69) at 12:33 am EST on Jan. 1, 2019.

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

NASA's New Horizons Spacecraft Takes the Inside Course to Ultima Thule

Mission Team Sees No Moons or Rings Near Ultima, Opts for Primary Flyby Path

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With no apparent hazards in its way, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has been given a "go" to stay on its optimal path to Ultima Thule as it speeds closer to a Jan. 1 flyby of the Kuiper Belt object a billion miles beyond Pluto – the farthest planetary flyby in history.

After almost three weeks of sensitive searches for rings, small moons and other potential hazards around the object, New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern gave the "all clear" for the spacecraft to remain on a path that takes it about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) from Ultima, instead of a hazard-avoiding detour that would have pushed it three times farther out. With New Horizons blazing though space at some 31,500 miles (50,700 kilometers) per hour, a particle as small as a grain of rice could be lethal to the piano-sized probe.

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Ultima Thule's First Mystery

New Horizons scientists puzzled by lack of a 'light curve' from their Kuiper Belt flyby target

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NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is bearing down on Ultima Thule, its New Year's flyby target in the far away Kuiper Belt. Among its approach observations over the past three months, the spacecraft has been taking hundreds of images to measure Ultima's brightness and how it varies as the object rotates.

Those measurements have produced the mission's first mystery about Ultima. Even though scientists determined in 2017 that the Kuiper Belt object isn't shaped like a sphere – that it is probably elongated or maybe even two objects – they haven't seen the repeated pulsations in brightness that they'd expect from a rotating object of that shape. The periodic variation in brightness during every rotation produces what scientists refer to as a light curve.

arrow3.gif  Read More: NASA/JHUAPL

 

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

New Horizons Notebook: On Ultima's Doorstep

Final Maneuver Guides New Horizons Precisely to Ultima

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New Horizons carried out its last trajectory correction maneuver on approach to Ultima Thule last week, a short thruster burst to direct the spacecraft closer to its precise flyby aim point just 2,200 miles (3,500) above the mysterious Kuiper Belt object at 12:33 am EST on Jan. 1.

At 7:53 a.m. EST on Dec. 18, New Horizons fired its small thrusters for just 27 seconds, a 0.26 meter-per-second adjustment that corrected about 180 miles (300 kilometers) of estimated targeting error and sped up the arrival time at Ultima by about five seconds. Data from the spacecraft confirming the successful maneuver reached the New Horizons Mission Operations Center at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, through NASA's Deep Space Network, at 4:34 p.m. EST the same day.

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Interesting, too, how the Ultima Thule asteroid doesn't seem to vary in brightness as it rotates. It was expected to, given that it's believed to have an elongated shape, or even to be made of two separate objects, orbiting around one another. The first images, expected in about six days, may help clear up this mystery.

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Just now, bison said:

Interesting, too, how the Ultima Thule asteroid doesn't seem to vary in brightness as it rotates. It was expected to, given that it's believed to have an elongated shape, or even to be made of two separate objects, orbiting around one another. The first images, expected in about six days, may help clear up this mystery.

I'd say images will be most revealing. With twice resolution of the Pluto's surface, images should be stunning (on the farthest object to be imaged).

At my age, I'd say I saw it all... I won't see colonization of  the Mars, I won't see asteroid mining, but now I can die safely - we will reach the stars.

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I was hoping for an approach image but U T is so small that it will not grow beyond 1 camera pixel in size until about 1.5 days out and closer than 1 million miles. Which is a shame. 

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·
3 hours ago, bmk1245 said:

While Waspie sleeps

Waspie wasn't sleeping. I've merged this with the existing thread.

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9 minutes ago, Waspie_Dwarf said:

Waspie wasn't sleeping. I've merged this with the existing thread.

Sorry, Waspie, I jumped ahead. Apologies.

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On 12/26/2018 at 12:56 PM, bmk1245 said:

I'd say images will be most revealing. With twice resolution of the Pluto's surface, images should be stunning (on the farthest object to be imaged).

At my age, I'd say I saw it all... I won't see colonization of  the Mars, I won't see asteroid mining, but now I can die safely - we will reach the stars.

Don't give up yet you still have lots to see

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5 hours ago, seanjo said:

This is an Ion engine?

No, New Horizons uses hydrazine monopropellant in its thrusters, as do many space probes. It reacts in the presence of a catalyst to produce thrust, via a chemical reaction which releases hot gases.

Edited by bison
added information, corrected spelling
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So ****ing cool. I can't wait to see the images! I still say we need to name one of these distant objects Yuggoth, though. :D

Happy holidays, everyone! And keep exploring!

Edited by Seti42
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Posted (IP: Staff) ·
9 hours ago, seanjo said:

This is an Ion engine?

No, just old fashioned chemical thrusters.

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Ultima Thule Comes into Focus

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20181231-1.png

Just over 24 hours before its closest approach to Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule, the New Horizons spacecraft has sent back the first images that begin to reveal Ultima’s shape. The original images have a pixel size of 6 miles (10 kilometers), not much smaller than Ultima’s estimated size of 20 miles (30 kilometers), so Ultima is only about 3 pixels across (left panel). However, image-sharpening techniques combining multiple images show that it is elongated, perhaps twice as long as it is wide (right panel). This shape roughly matches the outline of Ultima’s shadow that was seen in observations of the object passing in front of a star made from Argentina in 2017 and Senegal in 2018.

arrow3.gif  Read More: NASA/JHUAPL

 

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