NASA's New Horizon spacecraft is ready to make history on New Year's Day in the outermost range of the Sun in the distant Kuiper Belt.
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The probe will make a flying city of an icy object named 2014 MU69 and nicknamed Ultima Thule, which orbits the heart of Kuiper Belt far beyond Neptune, 4 billion miles from the sun and 1 billion miles from Pluto.
It's the farthest planetary flight city in human history, according to NASA.
In less than 48 hours, New Horizon's low story! The team on @JHUAPL preparing for #New Year flyby of #UltimaThule, the farthest object explored by a spacecraft ever – 4 billion miles from the sun and ~ 1 billion miles from Pluto. pic.twitter.com/3EiB2bmOKy
– NASA New Horizons (@NASANewHorizons) December 30, 2018
"New Horizons will survey Ultima, chart its surface composition, determine how many moons it has, and find out if it has little or even an atmosphere," said New Horizons & # 39; s main researcher Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in a press release. .
"It will also do other studies, such as measuring Ultima's temperature and perhaps even its mass," Stern said.
"During a 72-hour period, Ultima will be transformed from a bright spot – a dot into the distance – to a fully explored world. It must be breathtaking!"
Ultima is the most primordial item ever explored, said deputy researcher Cathy Olkin. "I'm thrilled to see the surface properties of this small world, especially the craters on the surface."
The number of craters could help scientists determine the number of small objects in the outer solar system.
Launched on January 19, 2006, New Horizons is the same craftsmanship that delivered stunning images in 2015 from humanity's first visit to Pluto.
The goal of New Horizon's mission, according to NASA, is to answer questions about Pluto, its moons and Kuiper Belt objects.
The mission has made many discoveries so far, including mountains, moons and floating ice on Pluto.
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