A Nasa spacecraft has performed a flyby of the most distant, and very possibly the most ancient, object ever watched by mankind. Ultima Thule, a rock 30 kilometers (19 miles) in diameter, could be what numerous solar system's rocky planets looked like in their infancy. "We're a billion miles further than Pluto, and now we're going to keep going into the Kuiper Belt".
This Kuiper Belt object was discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2014.
"Now it is just a matter of time to see the data coming down", said deputy project scientist John Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute. The instruments on New Horizons will create geologic and compositional maps of Ultima Thule, as well as searching for any rings, debris, or even small satellites orbiting the object. "To me, this milestone for New Horizons is full of everything that NASA and NASA science is about".
The first signal back to Earth should come about 10 hours after the flyby, around 9:45 am (1445 GMT), letting NASA know if New Horizons survived the risky, high-speed encounter.
"We have a healthy spacecraft", said Alice Bowman, the New Horizons mission operations manager, after reviewing that initial burst of telemetry from the spacecraft, 6.6 billion kilometers from the Earth.
A contact binary object is when two large objects - asteroids or comets - orbit each other so closely that they touch.
Bolsonaro sworn in as president of Brazil
Those countries, and Palestinians, view east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Still, neither man raised the embassy issue when they spoke to journalists shortly afterward.
'Stranger Things' Season 3 Will Debut July 4
There's also the reinforcement of The Starcourt Mall theme in titles including The Mall Rats and The Battle Of Starcourt. In the foreground Mike and Eleven hold hands - but stand very far apart - as Eleven stares pensively back at the camera.
Small French yellow vest protests in Paris, after violence - International
Yesterday a mob of yellow vest protesters tried to storm the holiday home of President Emmanuel Macron . The initial protests were against a new fuel tax which was later suspended by the French government.
New Horizons can't talk to Earth and point to take observations at the same time, and so only after a post-flyby signal is received can the team really relax and begin to anticipate the scientific bonanza heading their way.
It is located in the Kuiper Belt, a huge asteroid belt that surrounds our solar system and contains the leftovers of the system's formation. "So stay tuned. There are no second chances for New Horizons". Data from watching this KBO pass in front of known background stars suggests that this is the likely shape of Ultima Thule. That's what makes this deep-freeze target so enticing; it's a preserved relic dating all the way back to our solar system's origin 4.5 billion years ago.
Brian May, the guitarist for the legendary rock band Queen and an astrophysicist, is also a participating scientist in the New Horizons mission.
To put into perspective just how incredible this is, the probe is two billion km past Neptune - the furthest of the classical planets - and 1.5 billion km past Pluto, which New Horizons studied in 2015. By the time the first images and data stream back to Earth, the borders of the known world will have expand once more.
It is the furthest exploration of any object in the Solar System. "We will find out".
Based on images taken during the spacecraft's approach, the Kuiper Belt is approximately 20 by 10 miles shaped similar to a bowling pin andspinning end over end. "You can't get any better than that".