The New Horizons spacecraft of NASA is ready to traverse afar worlds than ever before when it would be flying past 2014 MU69 in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
The spacecraft has steadily made its way over the last two weeks as NASA scientists conducted a series of checks and course corrections to assure that New Horizons is on the right track. It would be gathering as much information about the baffling object identified as Ultima Thule; which without hitting into any debris that may be sneaking in the outer outreach of the solar system.
On 15th December, the 12 researchers who constitute New Horizons hazard watch team affirmed that the access path was safe by taking the help of New Horizons’ telescopic Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI). If they had detected moons or rings near Ultima, NASA would have preferred for a secondary flight path, with New Horizons course-mending and flying past the object from a great distance.
Mark Showalter, the lead of the hazards team stated that the team was in total consent that the spacecraft should remain on the closer course, and mission leadership embraced the recommendation of the hazards team.
On Dec. 26, New Horizons entered Encounter Mode, which is a type of “safe mode” that certifies the science objectives of the mission would be carried out even if the spacecraft breaks down. Practically, when it entered the Encounter Mode it meant that the spacecraft is on its own now. Thousands of instructions have been supplied into its onboard computers, and it is doing its task, 1 billion miles beyond Pluto.
Simply, New Horizons will be ringing in the New Year by gliding past the most far-flung world that have been explored, and it is going to come close at 12:33 a.m. ET on Jan. 1. Even though the US is midst in the midst of federal government shutdown, one would be able to watch live simulations of the fly-past on the New Horizons mission website.
2018 might have been great for the space news and New Horizons will probably put 2019 on the right flight-past track.