Says the name ‘Ultima Thule’ you nothing? Then there is Tuesday, may change that. Because then it is D-day for the American space agency Nasa: the unmanned spacecraft New Horizons will pass Ultima Thule shaving, the furthest celestial body ever observed, and boldly go where no spacecraft has gone before
At Nasa it is the nail biting begins. Everything is ready for the big day, Tuesday, when New Horizons – 3.5 years after the encounter with dwarf planet Pluto – again along an unknown “object” in the distant Kuipergordel flies. New Horizons explores since 2015 the extreme zones of our solar system, but never before was the probe of the American space agency Nasa so far.
On 1 January, there is a historic ‘meeting’ planned with Ultima Thule – an asteroid or object that only four years ago was discovered. The object was at the time of its discovery the name 2014 MU69 but was shortly afterwards by the Nasa renamed it the ‘Ultima Thule’. The celestial body is located about 6.5 billion kilometres away from our earth.
Scientific exploration mission
“It is a purely scientific exploration mission,” says Alan Stern in a video on the website of the British broadcaster BBC. “We are never further away. Everyone is ready, we can’t wait to go and explore.’
If everything goes according to plan, will fly to New Horizons on January 1, 2019 to 6.33 hours in the morning, beyond Ultima Thule, with a speed of 14 kilometers per second. At that time the distance between the probe and the surface, some 3,500 kilometres amounts.