Tonight very early (or very early tomorrow, if you prefer), the New Horizons spacecraft will make the farthest flyby of an astronomical object ever made from humanity. At 05:33 UTC on January 1, New Year's Day, it will make 3,500 kilometers from the 2014 UM69, a stunning sun of rock and ice, next to the Sun and Neptune. If the result is successful, the fibers return the first images of the location in the Location of the Kuiper Belt object prematurely; 6.6 million kilometers From the ground.
So yes, this is a great deal.
You can remember New Horizons in Pluto flying space in July 2013 and the wealth of the world's smallest ice data, including the beautiful images that change the visual and thought of the solar system.
But the solar system will not end with Neptune and Pluto. There are thousands of objects, especially the volume of space with rock and ice. This is why this historical reason is the Kuiper Belt. For a few decades, the first Kuiper Belt Object (or KBO) was not found until the 1990s … and now we know thousands of them. Some people (including) pluto take the greatest of these objects we know so far.
Even before Pluto's flyby in 2015, he sought to find a second goal in Kuitzerri's New Horizons. The story behind me is very enjoyable – team member Alex Parker posted a blog post about NASA Tells Twitter – But to shorten a long story, Hubble found KBO 2014 that it was close enough around the spacecraft's route to get a fuel available. He received the 2014 MU69 nomination, I would probably tell you what is known as Ultima Thule, an unknown occurrence after the public contest by the New Horizons team.
We do not know about MU69 yet. It is so far away that it is so small that it can hardly be seen by the earth's telescopes, and New Horizons did not even find it until August 2016. The elliptical orbit keeps more than 6 million kilometers of the Sun. One million kilometers away from Pluto. Concerned observations MU69 two objects orbiting each other (becoming a binary object) or a double object lobby like 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimko comet. Both components are likely to be around 20km (and perhaps smaller) around. We know that there is a reddish color, there are a lot of such objects (the carbon molecule over the sun's ultraviolet light dissolves, because more complex molecules are re-assembled and these are red).
And that's it. But in a few days we will know it lots more.
I strongly recall reading Emily Lakdawall's friend to read about the nightclubs written by The Planetary Society. As always, his article is clear, interesting and contains all the information that needs to be understood.
There are also some points I want to do.
This is because MU69 is so small and poor, and recently we found it, we do not know its position Indeed. We know that flyby is enough to plan, but New Horizons gets more uncertainty because it literally increases. Also remember that MU69 is more than 20 or 40 kilometers or … and New Horizons scream in the past in the relative speed of the KBO 14 kilometers per second – Over 50,000 kilometers. That is why MU69 is not more than one or more pixels, almost the same as the encounter.
The engineers are confident and the information on the spacecraft is sufficiently fast to return to the MU69 shot and then it will be enough to see more details. . But the encounter is so fast that a spacecraft watch set is being prepared during meetings, analyzing MU69. Images will not be transmitted until after … and then it also takes radio waves, it travels at the speed of the light (because it's clear), six hours back to Earth. However, scientists are not released for the public to take a look and to clean a bit (raw data in an optic fiber, in general, should be processed to make the study easier). One day or another, before you start to see real images.
And what do we see? It's a good question. There are some interesting news, the MU69 shine over time (what astronomers call it light curve) is quite flat, strange. If it had been long (or two objects to orbit each other), it will become brighter when it turns over time. If the surface is comparable, the brightness will change as it rotates. However, nothing was seen. Is not it a feature? Or do we see it looking directly at one of its poles, so it is not seen how we see the new features? This last bit is not difficult, as we have seen, it has two main components and it's hard to figure out how to separate the pulley from looking down. They are so odd.
Is there the smallest moon orbiting the main body? Can they be rings? Is there about this cloud of dust? Surface flat or rough, hilly or flat, cratered or smooth? These are all important questions that tell us about remote objects, and all of them will respond to New Horizons.
And the next days will be answered.
As I said, I will be performing next week at the Star Trek: The Cruise III, where it will be great for the Internet. I may not be able to lower the images. So, look at the SYFY home page for other authors' opinions, Follow Emily on Twitter, and also A Twitter list of Twitter people covering their flyer. You can also follow New Horizons Mission On Twitter, and hey: Give Alex Parker continue too.
Let's see what it is.