The New Horizons spacecraft has received the all clear for its New Year’s date with Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule.
The New Horizons spacecraft has received the "all clear" for its New Year’s date with the Kuiper Belt Object Ultima Thule. Today, NASA announced that the New Horizons mission team has set a clear path, with no moons, rings, or other debris that could potentially destroy the probe.
"Our team feels like we have been riding along with the spacecraft, as if we were mariners perched on the crow's nest of a ship, looking out for dangers ahead," said hazards team lead Mark Showalter, of the SETI Institute. "The team was in complete consensus that the spacecraft should remain on the closer trajectory, and mission leadership adopted our recommendation."
Ultima Thule will be the farthest flyby in history, situated a billion miles beyond Pluto. It will also be the first ever flyby of a Kuiper Belt Object.
New Horizons is scheduled to approach Ultima Thule at 12:33 AM EST on January 1, 2019. Happy new year!