Ultima Thule flyby - 1st January

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rwilkinson
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Ultima Thule flyby - 1st January

Post by rwilkinson » Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:44 pm

The NASA New Horizons probe will be making a pass of the distant Kuiper Belt Object Ultima Thule on New Year's Day, which will be covered live on NASA's web-stream: https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive
The encounter will take place in the early hours of Tuesday morning, after which the spacecraft will turn to point its radio-dish back at Earth. Its first signals are expected mid-afternoon (our time), but the slow data-rate at that range (~4 billion miles!) means that it will take a couple of years to relay all the data it recorded, so don't expect to see any high-resolution images this week!
Their first Press Conference is scheduled for 11:30am EST, which is 4:30pm here.

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Re: Ultima Thule flyby - 1st January

Post by rwilkinson » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:33 pm

Their 2nd January press conference was much more interesting, where they revealed the first proper image of this extraordinary object.
It was quite exciting to see it live (I watched at 7pm last night) and be among the first to see their results being revealed to the world. And when they opened it to audience questions, I recognised Chris Lintott's voice asking one of them.
If you missed it then, you can catch up on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSHOOFBxRvA

There's another web-casted conference at 7pm tonight, when they have promised stereo images and compositional analysis.

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Re: Ultima Thule flyby - 1st January

Post by rwilkinson » Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:59 pm

I've been checking the display from NASA's Deep Space Network ground-stations, at:
https://eyes.nasa.gov/dsn/dsn.html
to see when the downlink from the New Horizons probe was recovered, after its conjunction (behind the solar corona).

I was pleased to see this afternoon that the station near Madrid has picked it up, and is now receiving data at a rate of 944 bits/sec (which makes my old Starlight Xpress parallel-port camera seem positively slick in comparison!).
Even so, it will still take the best part of two years to recover all the Ultima Thule fly-by data from the spacecraft's Solid-State Recorders.

Incidentally, The Sky At Night have a special programme on this encounter:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00023bc

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Re: Ultima Thule flyby - 1st January

Post by rwilkinson » Thu Jan 17, 2019 2:14 pm

Now that the spacecraft has emerged from its Solar conjunction more data has been returned, and they've been able to make an animation of the approach:
http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/New ... e=20190115

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Re: Ultima Thule flyby - 1st January

Post by rwilkinson » Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:46 am

The high-resolution images of the flyby have now been recovered and processed, and they got one with the target right in the frame, from a range of just over 4000 miles - whilst zipping past at 32,000 miles per hour!
http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/New ... e=20190222

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Re: Ultima Thule flyby - 1st January

Post by rwilkinson » Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:28 pm

The New Horizons team have just published a pair of stereoscopic high-resolution images as a 3D pair:
http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/New ... e=20190307
I found that I got the best effect from the "cross-eyed" pair.

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