January 27, 2021

New Horizons probe sends first signal from Ultima Thule

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By Jon Fingas From engadget

It’s the farthest flyby in human history.

principal investigator of the , left, New Horizons project manager Helene Winters of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, second from left, Fred Pelletier, lead of the project navigation team at KinetX Inc. second from right, and New Horizons co-investigator John Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute, right, are seen during a press conference prior to the flyby of by the New Horizons spacecraft, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018 at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. (Joel Kowsky/NASA via AP)

NASA now has proof that its New Horizons probe completed its record-setting flyby of the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule. The mission teamconfirmed the flypast at 10:31AM Eastern Time after receiving telemetry data indicating that the spacecraft was “healthy.” It technically flew past Ultima Thule at about 12:33AM , but the combination of data collection and the six-hour signal travel time left the New Horizons crew waiting until much later to receive the A-OK from their pride and joy.

Scientific data won’t arrive until sometime around 200 UTC on January 2nd (9PM ET on January 1st). You’ll have to wait a while for an up-close snapshot, then.

The confirmation isn’t just a relief for the New Horizons team. This marks the farthest-ever flyby in human history — at about 4 billion miles from the Sun, Ultima Thule makes Pluto seem like a next-door neighbor by comparison. It also promises a raft of potential scientific insights, including clues to the formation of dwarf planets. Some of those discoveries may take a long time, but they’ll be worthwhile if they shed light on the Solar System and the cosmos at large.

For more on this story go to: https://www.engadget.com/2019/01/01/new-horizons-ultima-thule-signal/

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