Monday, December 31, 2018

Staying up for the no-name flyby - NASA travels 44 AU to photograph an object a mere 20 miles across that is 44 AU from our Sun.

Who will be staying up late tonight (December 31)? The probe's closest approach will be at 12:33 a.m. ET on Jan 1. The report goes further to explain that it takes about six hours for the New Horizons data to get all the way back to Earth, and researchers expect that detailed images from the spacecraft's close flyby will be unveiled to the public on Jan. 2.

See NPR's report: "Way Beyond Pluto, An Icy World Is Ready For Its Close-Up" December 31, 2018.

Wait for it ... wait for it ... wait ...

This is an added gem of the entire mission. NASA has performed extremely well, about to obtain close up photos and data (2,200 miles out of from an object that is a mere 20 miles across in size, and located about a billion miles beyond Pluto. It has taken more than a dozen years to reach this object, and it reached Pluto in 2015, so that provides some perspective on just how traveled this probe has traveled to date. This object is 44 times farther from the Sun than Earth. That's 44 astronomical units, for our local strict math majors like Orestes (Ok, so he is but more a mathematical physicists than astronomer, but he enjoys both). [It's not often you can measure things around here using the AU measurement (9.2956×107 mi)].

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