On January 1, a NASA probe will make the most distant fly-by of any solar system object ever

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    • #5509
      • Total Posts: 8,843

      This week may mark the year’s end, but it also marks a new beginning for the New Horizons spacecraft. The space probe best known for its incredible photos of Pluto in 2015 is embarking on a new adventure: a flyby of an object far beyond Pluto, named Ultima Thule. The object lurks on the edge of our solar system in the Kuiper Belt.

      The flyby is scheduled for January 1, 2019,  though the spacecraft will continue studying the Kuiper Belt until at least 2021.

      Ultima Thule is more mysterious even than Pluto. For one, it is far smaller: with an estimated 30 kilometer diameter, Ultima Thule is little more than a glorified asteroid. In the frigid, empty space beyond Pluto, Ultima Thule makes its slow orbit around our sun, swinging around once every 296 years. Scientists have theories as to what Ultima Thule might look like close-up, though most expect there to be surprises; after all, there has never been a flyby of an object this distant before in the history of any space program. Given that scientists have never before studied a Kuiper Belt object like this up close, Ultima Thule may yield many new insights into the history of the formation of our solar system.

      As it has approached, New Horizons has already started to take photos of its target, which has already yielded an interesting discovery. According to scientists, there is a lack of a “light curve,” meaning periodic pulsations in brightness.




    • #5512
      Ohio Barbarian
      • Total Posts: 20,705

      denigrated and suppressed as it so often is in our schools.

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton

    • #5548
      retired liberal
      • Total Posts: 3,929

      And something about the amazing fact the probe can stay lined up with earth, when everything is moving in relation to everything else. On this side we have to deal with the Earth’s rotation, too.
      Plus the fact we can even pick up the signal from such a great distance. I think the probe transmitter is 15 watts maximum.

      Some information on what is involved here.
      <h1>Talking to Pluto is hard! Why it takes so long to get data back from New Horizons</h1>

      We are an arrogant species, believing our fantasy based "facts" are better than the other person's fake facts.
      If you are wrong, it will be because you are not cynical enough.
      The older we get, the less "Life in Prison" is a deterrent.
      Always wear a proper mask when out and about. The life you save could be both yours and mine.

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