NASA has emerged in the New Year's Eve on Tuesday with the historic prolethe of the longest, and most probably the oldest, cosmic body ever explored by humanity – a tiny, remote world called Ultima Thule – hoping to learn more about how the planets took shape.
"Go New Horizons!" the leading scientist Alan Stern said as a pile, including kids dressed in space costumes, who were delighted with party horns and braved at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland to mark the moment at 12:33 am (4:33 pm). cameras in space rock distance 6.4 billion kilometers in the dark and ice area of the area called the Kuiper Belt.
Providing scientists with a first glimpse of the ancient building blocks of the planet, the overflow of about one billion miles outside Pluto, which has so far been the northernmost world that has ever been near the spacecraft, has been cut off.
Real-time real-time video was impossible, as it took more than six hours for a signal sent from Earth to reach the spacecraft and another six hours for the response.
The first signal to the Earth should come about 10 o'clock after the break, around 9:45 pm (1:45 pm, Wednesday), leaving NASA to know if the New Horizons survived a high-speed risky encounter.
Walking through the space at 32,000 miles per hour, the spacecraft was trying to get closer to a distance of 2,200 miles from Ultima Thule's surface.
"This is a night that no one of us will forget," said British guitarist Brian May, who also graduated astrophysics, and recorded a solo track to honor the spacecraft and his research spirit.
Stern said that Ultima Thule is unique because it is a relic from the early days of the Sun's system and could give answers to the origin of other planets.
"The subject is so deeply frozen that it is perfectly preserved from its original formation," he said.
"Everything we will learn about the Ultimate – from its composition to its geology to the way it originally gathered, whether it has satellites, atmosphere and such things – will teach us about the original conditions for creating objects in the solar system."
How does it look like?
Scientists are not sure how Ultima Thule (pronounces TOO-lee) looks – whether crawled or smooth, or even if it's just one object or set.
It was discovered in 2014 with Hubble Space Telescope, and is believed to be 12 to 20 miles in size.
A faded and pixelated image released Monday, taken from a distance of 1.2 million miles, intrigued scientists because it seems to show an elongated stain rather than a rounded space rock.
The spaceship was supposed to collect 900 images for a few seconds while shaved. Even clearer images should arrive in the next three days.
"Now is only a matter of time when data will be dropped," said Deputy Spencer scientist from the Southwest Research Institute.
Scientists have decided to study Ultima Thule with the New Horizons after the spacecraft launched in 2006 completed its main flight mission to Pluto in 2015, bringing back the most captivated images ever shot by the dwarf planet.
Stern said the goal is to capture Ultima images that are three times bigger than Pluto's resolution team.
The Boundary of Planetary Science
Ultima Thule is named after the mythical, distant north island of medieval literature and cartography, NASA says.
Project scientist Hal Weaver of the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory said that people did not even know that the Kuiper belt – the huge ring relic from the days of the formation of the Solar System – existed until the 1990s.
"This is the boundary of planetary science," Weaver said.
"We finally reached the suburbs of the Sun's system, and things that were there from the beginning and barely changed – we think. We'll find out."
Another NASA aircraft, OSIRIS-REX, also set a new record on Monday by joining the orbit around the asteroid Benn, the smallest cosmic object – 500 meters (500 meters) wide – ever surrounded by a jet.
NASA has reported that the orbit is about 110 million kilometers of "jump for humanity," because no spacecraft has ever "circled so close to such a small spacecraft-one with barely enough gravity to keep the vehicle in a stable orbit."
Double Planetary Insights coincided with the 50th anniversary of the first time people ever explored the other world when American astronauts circled the moon at Apollo 8 in December 1968.
"As you celebrate New Year, take a look up and think about the incredible things that our country and our kind can do when we focus on it," Stern wrote on Monday in the New York Times.