December 31, 2018

New Horizons VS. Ultima Thule

Well, tonight (tomorrow actually) after the fireworks and the dropping of the ball,  you should stick around because there will be an encore celebration around 12:15AM, when Clyde Tombaugh's atomic powered urn, better known as NASA's New Horizons probe, which not so long ago gave us spectacular views of Pluto is going to pass by(486958) 2014 MU69, a small but very strange transNeptunian object that has been given the unofficial temporary name Ultima Thule for marketing purposes. 


The object in question, about 12 miles across, is a cause for a good bit of speculation  as it doesn't seem to have much of a light curve, at all, which is...odd.

"But it's AWESOME, 'cause it's weird 
and we're gonna discover something!"

Indeed.

Note though, that possible explanations include that the object is actually surrounded by a cloud of debris, in which case there's a decent chance that New Horizons will come to an end in a collision. 

Because it is SO far away, the radio signals will take over 9 hours to get to NASA! Coverage of that is set to start around 09:45 Eastern Time(U.S.). There is a press conference scheduled for 11:30 Eastern to discuss the pictures, or what can be gleaned from the probes loss. There will be a lot of discussion of this online tonight and tomorrow morning with Launchpad Astronomy already 4 hours into their  24 hr livestream. 


So tonight, after the celebrations, sit back, watch the coverage and throw back an egg nog for Clyde Tombaugh, the little probe that carries his remains, and the implacable spirit of mankind.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 05:19 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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