The New Year’s jubilee to chaperon in 2019 will embody an eventuality like no other – some-more than 4 billion miles from Earth.
In only underneath a year – shortly after midnight Eastern Time on Jan. 1, 2019 – NASA’s New Horizons booster will hum by a many obsolete and many apart intent ever explored. New Horizons’ confront with Kuiper Belt intent 2014 MU69, that orbits a billion miles over Pluto, will offer a initial close-up demeanour during such a primitive building retard of a solar complement – and will be achieved in a segment of low space that was most different only a era ago.
“We entice everybody to ring in a subsequent year with a fad of exploring a unknown.” – Jim Green, executive of NASA’s Planetary Science Division
“The Voyagers and Pioneers flew by a Kuiper Belt during a time when we didn’t know this segment existed,” pronounced Jim Green, executive of NASA’s Planetary Science Division during Headquarters in Washington. “New Horizons is on a hunt to know these objects, and we entice everybody to ring in a subsequent year with a fad of exploring a unknown.”
“Our flyby of MU69 on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day 2019 will be an sparkling supplement to a ancestral scrutiny New Horizons achieved during Pluto in 2015,” combined Alan Stern, New Horizons principal questioner from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. “Nothing even like MU69 has ever been explored before.”
As with a hundreds of thousands of other tiny worlds in this section of icy bodies, MU69 is hidden in mystery. In fact, a all we know about it has come from a Hubble Space Telescope (used to learn a intent in 2014) and a extensive regard debate final summer, in that a New Horizons group collected information on MU69 as it upheld in front of 3 stars. Those observations indicated that MU69 could be dual objects, maybe accompanied by a moon.
“That tells us this intent is going to have a lot of surprises in store for New Horizons,” pronounced Marc Buie, a New Horizons scholarship group member from SwRI who led a regard campaign. “We’re going to see something that dates behind to a arrangement of a solar system.”
New Horizons will fly about 3 times closer to MU69 than it did to Pluto in Jul 2015, permitting a spacecraft’s cameras to yield a some-more minute demeanour during a object’s surface. Project Scientist Hal Weaver, of a Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, forked out that New Horizons’ vantage indicate from about 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers) from MU69 will concede it mark sum about a distance of a basketball court.
“Combining images with a measurements we make of a combination of and sourroundings around MU69, should learn us a good understanding about objects like MU69 that built dwarf planets like Pluto,” Weaver said.
The MU69 flyby is a centerpiece of a stream New Horizons extended goal that also includes observations of some-more than two-dozen other Kuiper Belt objects, as good as measurements of a plasma, gas and dirt sourroundings of a Kuiper Belt. “This post-Pluto goal is a finish and extensive scrutiny of a Kuiper Belt,” pronounced Alice Bowman, New Horizons goal operations manager, also from APL. “The booster is collecting information out there via any year while a goal group works together to devise and figure a MU69 flyby.”
New Horizons is now in hibernation until Jun 4. After that wake-up and a check of a spacecraft’s systems and scholarship instruments, a MU69 confront starts in mid- August, with a initial attempts during long-distance observations of MU69 that a group will use to navigate a booster along a flyby path.
The New Horizons group done dozens of discoveries in a Pluto complement and looks brazen to elucidate even some-more systematic mysteries during MU69. Watch a “Pluto and Charon in a Rear View, MU69 Dead Ahead off a Starboard Bow” event from a American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting on Dec. 11, 2017.
The New Horizons group briefed a media during a 2017 AGU Fall Meeting, covering pivotal elements of a Kuiper Belt extended mission. Watch here
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