The artistic vision of the NASA spacecraft New Horizons flying past Ultima Thule on January 1, 2019.
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is preparing to perform the most distant flight in history. You have the opportunity to send a few words of encouragement to the ship in space. The team asks people around the world to send congratulations to the New Horizons, which on January 1 will approach the Ultima Thule object, 1.6 billion kilometers away from Pluto.
Signals with congratulations will be sent from the Applied Physics Laboratory and in 6 hours they will reach the vehicle flying past the Ultima Thule. Participation is completely free. Unfortunately, you will not be able to come up with a phrase yourself, but you can vote for one of 6 options on the site http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Send-Greetings/.
The New Horizons mission cost $ 700 million and started in January 2006. Its main goal is to study Pluto, which has remained a mystery since its discovery in 1930. On July 14, 2015, the spacecraft explored a dwarf planet, imagining a world with a rich and interesting landscape. Circling the Ultima Thule will be the highlight of the New Horizons mission, after which the device will go even deeper into the Kuiper Belt - the realm of icy celestial bodies outside the orbit of Neptune. If everything goes according to plan, the device will fly past Ultima Thule at a distance of 3,500 km (for Pluto, the distance was 12,550 km).
Scientists will be able to get amazing images of the mysterious world with a width of 37 km. For example, it is still unclear whether this is a single object or a pair rotating around each other. Ultima Thule will be the second interesting event in 24 hours. The fact is that on December 31, the OSRIS-REx spacecraft is scheduled to enter the orbit of the asteroid Bennu.