The artistic illustration shows the NASA New Horizons spacecraft meeting 2014 MU69 (Ultima Thule). This is a Kuiper Belt Object, 1 billion miles away from Pluto.
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is approaching a historical goal, considered the furthest ever studied in the world. This frozen residue from the early solar system lives at a distance of 6.4 billion km.
This is about 2014 MU69 (Ultima Thule). It resembles Washington in size, and the orbit is 1 billion miles distant from Pluto, causing the object to rotate in the dark and cold Kuiper belt. The closest passage is scheduled for January 1st. While the appearance and composition remain a mystery.
In fact, we face a peculiar time capsule, whose study will allow us to return to the birth of the Solar System by 4.5 billion years into the past. On board the New Horizons there is a camera, so when approaching, it will be possible to understand the true nature of the object (one or two). Already a day before approaching, scientists should see the exact form. On December 26, the spacecraft entered meeting mode and answered all commands perfectly. Communication is difficult to maintain at this distance, because the signal travels in one direction for 6 hours and 8 minutes. That is, the round trip takes 12 hours and 16 minutes. January 1, the unit should fly at a distance of 3500 km.
To this end, New Horizons continues to accelerate to the rate of 51,500 km / h, flying almost 1 million miles a day. Scientists are looking forward to the first images. This is a mission in flight, so you need to do everything right. The spacecraft was launched in 2006 and, on the way, produced magnificent photos of Pluto in 2015.