June ninth, 2018
NASA’s New Horizons probe has been woke up from practically six months in hibernation to allow the mission staff to begin preparations for its flyby of Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) Ultima Thule (often known as 2014 MU69) within the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2019.
At 2:12 AM EDT on Tuesday, June 5, mission headquarters on the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) obtained radio indicators despatched from the spacecraft through NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) confirming it carried out the suitable pc instructions to exit hibernation mode, which it had been in since December 21, 2017.
Now shut to three.eight billion miles (6.1 billion km) from Earth, the spacecraft is in good well being, and all its techniques are again on-line, in accordance to Mission Operations Manager Alice Bowman of JHUAPL.
Traveling on the common velocity of sunshine, radio indicators take 5 hours and 40 minutes every approach from Earth to the spacecraft and again.
Immediate duties for the mission staff contain assortment of the spacecraft’s navigation monitoring knowledge through DSN. Over the following two months, pc instructions getting ready for the flyby are scheduled to be uploaded to the probe. Science devices and their subsystems are going to be examined, and Kuiper Belt knowledge collected by the spacecraft is ready to be retrieved and analyzed.
In late August, New Horizons‘ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) is scheduled to make its first observations of the KBO, which mission scientists plan on utilizing to refine New Horizons‘ trajectory towards its second goal.
Currently, the spacecraft is about 162 million miles (262 million km) from Ultima Thule and touring towards it at a velocity of 760,200 miles (1,223,420 km) per day.
“Our staff is already deep into planning and simulations of our upcoming flyby of Ultima Thule and excited that New Horizons is now again in an energetic state to prepared the chook for flyby operations, which is able to start in late August,” reported mission Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado.
Since its historic July 2015 Pluto flyby, the probe has conducting distant research of different Kuiper Belt Objects, together with some dwarf planets, and of the heliosphere, the bubble-like area of area over which the Sun’s affect extends.
Ultima Thule is situated roughly one billion miles (1.6 billion km) past Pluto. Readers can monitor New Horizons‘ position as it heads toward its target via the mission’s “Where is New Horizons?” web page.
The probe will now stay awake till late 2020, when all knowledge from the Ultima Thule flyby in addition to knowledge from different Kuiper Belt science observations, is efficiently transmitted again to Earth.
Laurel Kornfeld is an newbie astronomer and freelance author from Highland Park, NJ, who enjoys writing about astronomy and planetary science. She studied journalism at Douglass College, Rutgers University, and earned a Graduate Certificate of Science from Swinburne University’s Astronomy Online program. Her writings have been revealed on-line in The Atlantic, Astronomy journal’s visitor weblog part, the UK Space Conference, the 2009 IAU General Assembly newspaper, The Space Reporter, and newsletters of varied astronomy golf equipment. She is a member of the Cranford, NJ-based Amateur Astronomers, Inc. Especially within the outer photo voltaic system, Laurel gave a short presentation on the 2008 Great Planet Debate held on the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, MD.