LAUREL, Md. – The space craft & # 39; the horizons of the New NASA removed the most remote exploration & # 39; Other world Tuesday, xxekklet past by embracing small item 4 billion miles from Earth seems to form & # 39; bowling pen.
The flight controllers in & # 39; Maryland declared a success 10 hours after the meeting & # 39; risk and & # 39; midnight in mysterious body called Ultima Thule on the frozen fringes of our solar system, a & # 39; miles billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto.
"Do not you all know, but & # 39; now I'm really enjoying this thing of 2019," said left leading scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute. "I'm here to tell you that last night, overnight, the aircraft New US Horizons carried out more exploration in the history of mankind, and have done so with & # 39; spectacular way . "
The close approach came half an hour into the new year, and 3 1/2 years after the free swinging precedent Pluto New Horizons passed by.
For Ultima Thule – not even known when New Horizons left Earth in 2006 – the effort was more difficult. The craft & # 39; space increased at 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) of it, more than three times the closest flyby of & # 39; Pluto.
Operating on autopilot, New Horizons were out of radio contact with controllers in Physics Laboratory Applied of University Johns Hopkins from late Monday afternoon until late Tuesday morning . Scientists wanted to craft & # 39; space sees the Ultima Thule and collect data, and not turn to the World home phone
The manager of mission operations Alice Bowman said she was more nervous this time than it does & # 39; Pluto in 2015 because of the challenges and distance, so great that messages take more than six hours, way, to share 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers). When finally obtained solid radio link and team members reported that the & # 39 systems; craft their space were green or good, it declared b & # 39; relief: "We have space craft b & # 39; his health. " Later, it added & # 39; more applause: "We have again."
Cheers erupted in the control center and a nearby hall, where hundreds – who still wear the double Eve countdowns Year – gathered to await word. Scientists and other team members embraced and qsmu myriad & # 39; five stripes, while the secondary auditorium crowd gave a standing ovazzjoni.
Stern, Bowman and other key players soon joined their friends at the auditorium, where the celebration continued and became news conference. The speakers were happy to show the last picture of Ultima Thule, taken hundreds of thousands of miles before the close approach of the 12: 33 am.
"Ultima Thule finally reveal its secrets to us," said left project scientist Hal Weaver & # 39; Johns Hopkins.
Based on early rudimentary pictures, Ultima Thule is very elongated – about 22 miles b & # 39; 9 miles (35 kilometers by 15 kilometers). It also spinning, although scientists do not yet know how quickly.
Regarding its shape, scientists say that there are two possibilities.
Ultima Thule is one item or b & # 39; two lobes connected, such as & # 39; pinling bowling Pinenut or peanuts still in the shell, or two objects revolving around another surprisingly close. One body is more likely, they noted. The answer should be next Wednesday, once better come closer photos.
By the weekend, "Ultima Thule will be a completely different world, compared to & # 39; what you see now," noted Weaver.
However, the best close-ups of color will not be available until February. Those pictures will show whether Ultima Thule has rings or moons, or craters on the dark and his face red. B & # 39; everything, it will take nearly two years to all data & # 39; New Horizons reaches the Earth.
The findings should help scientists ascertain formed as & # 39; freeze items like Ultima Thule, along with the rest of the solar system, 4.5 billion years ago.
As a remnant preserved than the original time, Ultima Thule also promises to shed & # 39; light on the so-called Kuiper Belt, or Twilight Zone, where hundreds & # 39; thousands & # 39; items sit well beyond Neptune.
"This mission has always been about delayed gratification," Stern reminded reporters. He noted it took 12 years to sell the project, five years to build nine & # 39; years to reach the first target, Pluto.
Its mission now amounts to $ 800 million, the New Horizons child & # 39; large size & # 39; piano will continue to turn to the edge of the solar system, observe the remote Kuiper Belt Objects, or KBOs, and take measurements of the cosmic particles. Although NASA Voyagers crossed c Kuiper Belt route to true interstellar space, instruments & # 39; to the seventies era were not as sophisticated as those at New Horizons, noted Weaver, and -inġenju of & # 39; double space objects pass near some well-known at that time.
The text of the New Horizons team already calls for another flyby 2020s, while nuclear power and other systems & # 39; spacecraft still good.
Bowman takes comfort and pleasure to know that long after the New Horizons stop working, "remains & # 39; s going and going."
"There are a few all of us on that spacecraft," she said, "and will continue after we twalna here on Earth."