It is impossible to predict exactly what you will see when you first visit a new world, especially if it is located on the most distant border of the Solar System. But you can prepare for such an event. Recently, NASA’s New Horizons research team completed a 3-day rehearsal for the most active days of December 31 - January 1 near Ultima Thule. This is the Kuiper Belt object, rotating at a distance of a billion miles, outside of Pluto.
Kirby Runyon, Rajani Dhinga, Merroli Kinchik and Kelsey Singer discuss two main objects of the Ultima Thule simulated system
The researchers used the same tools that are used in the real span. More than 50 scientists have downloaded and analyzed the simulated data. This activity has become one of the last almost 20 tests for operational readiness. The New Horizons team has carefully studied the critical aspects of the upcoming flight, from the operations and navigation of spacecraft to the search for rings, satellites and other hazards around the object. In July 2015, the team conducted a series of similar tests when preparing for the historic Pluto span. For the final test on September 6-8, scientists had to create realistic mock-ups, compositional spectra and other data sets. Thus, the team modeled a complex test complex for Ultima Thule. The script was not fancy, as they used the real data of the object (2014 MU69). It is believed that there may be a binary system where the bodies touch or are close to each other.