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Thu Dec 27, 2018, 12:37 PM

A NASA space probe is about to snap pictures of a mystery object beyond Pluto

Source: NASA

By Chase Purdy 10 minutes ago

It gave earthlings our first close-up images of Pluto. Now, just three-and-a-half years later, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is closing in on a mysterious hunk of reddish rock and ice that’s inspired much fascination within the astronomy community.

Even the object’s name—Ultima Thule—reveals just how little we know about the floating mass. It literally translates to “beyond the known world.”

“This is pure exploration,” said Alan Stern, the mission’s principal investigator in a statement. “We are really flying toward something completely unknown, unlike any other object we’ve studied in the past.”

According to NASA, the hunk stretches about 20 miles (32 kilometers) across, and it’s significant to space scientists because it is potentially the most primitive object ever encountered by a spacecraft. Astronomers see this as an opportunity to check out something that scientists say could be as as old as the moments when the solar system’s planets were first forming.


Read more: https://qz.com/1509257/a-nasa-spacecraft-is-about-to-snap-pictures-of-an-object-beyond-pluto/



-snip-

Ultima Thule is located in a region of space at the edge of the solar system called the Kuiper Belt. It’s mostly home to hundreds of thousands of asteroids and comet-like objects.

The New Horizons spacecraft, which is about the size of a baby grand piano, is set to reach Ultima Thule on Jan. 1 at 12:30am EST. Images are expected to transmit 4 billion miles back to earth by 10am.

The images of Ultima Thule are really just an encore performance from the New Horizons spacecraft, which was dispatched from Earth to snap images of Pluto. But scientists say the craft still has enough power to keep it traveling through space through the mid-2030s. So they intend to send it further into the Kuiper Belt, where it’ll give new close-up insights into regions of space we’ve never seen before.


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Arrow 19 replies Author Time Post
Reply A NASA space probe is about to snap pictures of a mystery object beyond Pluto (Original post)
turbinetree Dec 27 OP
CatMor Dec 27 #1
jayfish Dec 27 #2
Control-Z Dec 27 #13
reACTIONary Dec 27 #16
LakeSuperiorView Dec 27 #3
EX500rider Dec 27 #4
yuiyoshida Dec 27 #5
JuJuYoshida Dec 28 #18
sl8 Dec 27 #6
dae Dec 27 #12
Baclava Dec 27 #7
Bayard Dec 27 #8
Baclava Dec 27 #14
USALiberal Dec 27 #9
sprinkleeninow Dec 27 #10
iluvtennis Dec 27 #11
reACTIONary Dec 27 #15
whistler162 Dec 28 #17
SCVDem Dec 28 #19

Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 12:43 PM

1. Fascinating...

the object is only about 20 miles across so wondering if it broke off of something or is disinigrating from being so old.

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 12:46 PM

2. "about the size of a baby grand piano"

Well, that really puts it into perspective.

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Response to jayfish (Reply #2)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 04:21 PM

13. Yeah. At least we know it's not as big as

a standard grand piano. Whew! Good to know!

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Response to jayfish (Reply #2)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 07:43 PM

16. To be more exact....

Spacecraft properties:

Launch mass 478 kg (1,054 lb)
Dry mass 401 kg (884 lb)
Payload mass 30.4 kg (67 lb)
Dimensions 2.2 × 2.1 × 2.7 m (7.2 × 6.9 × 8.9 ft)

And 21.5 pounds of plutonium providing 228 watts of power.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Horizons

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 12:59 PM

3. "So they intend to send it further into the Kuiper Belt"

That's happening regardless of what they intend. It has enough power to continue sending back data, but it really can't change it's course much at all. It's going to keep traveling through space until the end of time, long after it's power to send data runs out.

Where do they get these so-called writers?

Cool story, too bad the writer doesn't understand half of it.

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 01:44 PM

4. Close up picture of object:

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Response to EX500rider (Reply #4)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 02:19 PM

5. oh and here I was hoping for it to be ...



a "bird of prey"...

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Response to yuiyoshida (Reply #5)

Fri Dec 28, 2018, 11:19 AM

18. LMAO

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 03:06 PM

6. Where to Watch:

From http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/Where-to-Watch.php

Where to Watch

A schedule of televised events is below; all times EST and subject to change according to mission timelines and activities. Keep checking back for updates and additions!

Alternate Viewing
Should the federal government shutdown continue through New Horizons' Ultima Thule flyby – and NASA TV, nasa.gov and other agency digital and social channels remain offline – the New Horizons mission will provide coverage of live mission activities on this website and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory YouTube channel.


Where to follow New Horizons

New Horizons Mission Website
Johns Hopkins APL on YouTube
Johns Hopkins APL on Twitter
Principal Investigator Alan Stern's New Horizons Twitter Feed
Johns Hopkins APL on Facebook
Johns Hopkins APL on Instagram
Johns Hopkins APL Website


...



Schedule and more at link.

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Response to sl8 (Reply #6)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 03:53 PM

12. Thank you for the links.

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 03:11 PM

7. "We are really flying toward something completely unknown"

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Response to Baclava (Reply #7)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 03:18 PM

8. Oh, yeah, baby!

That would kind of put all our current problems in perspective, wouldn't it?

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Response to Bayard (Reply #8)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 06:13 PM

14. It's a trap!

“Perhaps we need some outside universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.”

1987, Ronald Reagan


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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 03:19 PM

9. Thanks for posting!! nt

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 03:33 PM

10. Verrry interrrresting. If I may say so myself! 🤗

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 03:41 PM

11. Wow. thanks for sharing.

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2018, 07:22 PM

15. GO Atlas, GO Centaur, GO ....

.... New Horizons !!!!

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2018, 04:26 AM

17. It is a dog house!

Pluto needs his house.

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2018, 11:21 AM

19. Due to the government shutdown

All science is cancelled! I hope!

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