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Thread: Kuiper Belt Extended Mission (KEM) (Ex New Horizons)

  1. #31
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    Emily Lakdawalla takes us through "What to Expect When New Horizons Visits 2014 MU69, Ultima Thule".

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily...ima-thule.html

    New Horizons is rapidly approaching its New Year’s encounter with the most distant world ever visited, 2014 MU69. Closest approach will be at a distance of 3,500 kilometers at about 05:33 on 1 January UTC, and it’ll happen at a zippy 14.16 kilometers per second. Space fans can’t wait to see pictures of this distant, tiny world, an ancient relic of the formation of our solar system, which the mission and NASA have nicknamed “Ultima Thule,” until it is formally named. (I think we should all get to give it our own nicknames. I'm partial to "Moo," or maybe "Peanut.")

    We don’t have much idea what MU69 is going to look like. What we know about it so far is pretty limited. It’s probably about 20 to 35 kilometers across, roughly 10 times the diameter of Rosetta’s comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It seems to have a very irregular shape. It might be a binary (two objects orbiting close to each other) or bilobate (like 67P). Its surface is reddish. It might be a fragment of a bigger object, in which case it might have heated up a little after it formed, or it might actually have accreted to its current size, in which case it could show layers and agglomerations like 67P.
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  2. #32
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    I like "Moo".
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  3. #33
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    New Horizons to take a path bringing it within 3,500 kilometers of Ultima Thule.

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Ne...Thule_999.html

    With no apparent hazards in its way, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has been given a "go" to stay on its optimal path to Ultima Thule as it speeds closer to a Jan. 1 flyby of the Kuiper Belt object a billion miles beyond Pluto - the farthest planetary flyby in history.

    After almost three weeks of sensitive searches for rings, small moons and other potential hazards around the object, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern gave the "all clear" for the spacecraft to remain on a path that takes it about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) from Ultima, instead of a hazard-avoiding detour that would have pushed it three times farther out. With New Horizons blazing though space at some 31,500 miles (50,700 kilometers) per hour, a particle as small as a grain of rice could be lethal to the piano-sized probe.
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  4. #34
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    "Ultima Thule's First Mystery: Lack of a 'Light Curve'"

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Ul...Curve_999.html

    NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is bearing down on Ultima Thule, its New Year's flyby target in the far away Kuiper Belt. Among its approach observations over the past three months, the spacecraft has been taking hundreds of images to measure Ultima's brightness and how it varies as the object rotates.

    Those measurements have produced the mission's first mystery about Ultima. Even though scientists determined in 2017 that the Kuiper Belt object isn't shaped like a sphere - that it is probably elongated or maybe even two objects - they haven't seen the repeated pulsations in brightness that they'd expect from a rotating object of that shape. The periodic variation in brightness during every rotation produces what scientists refer to as a light curve.

    "It's really a puzzle," said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute. "I call this Ultima's first puzzle - why does it have such a tiny light curve that we can't even detect it? I expect the detailed flyby images coming soon to give us many more mysteries, but I did not expect this, and so soon."
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  5. #35
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    New Horizons, has carried out its last trajectory correction maneuver, on approach to Ultima Thule last week, to bring it within 2,200 miles of Ultima Thule.

    http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/...?page=20181222

    New Horizons carried out its last trajectory correction maneuver on approach to Ultima Thule last week, a short thruster burst to direct the spacecraft closer to its precise flyby aim point just 2,200 miles (3,500) above the mysterious Kuiper Belt object at 12:33 am EST on Jan. 1.

    At 7:53 a.m. EST on Dec. 18, New Horizons fired its small thrusters for just 27 seconds, a 0.26 meter-per-second adjustment that corrected about 180 miles (300 kilometers) of estimated targeting error and sped up the arrival time at Ultima by about five seconds. Data from the spacecraft confirming the successful maneuver reached the New Horizons Mission Operations Center at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, through NASA's Deep Space Network, at 4:34 p.m. EST the same day.
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  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I like "Moo".
    I do have some issues taking the Ultima Thule name seriously since in Sweden it is the name of a well known White Power(-ish) rock band that often made the headlines in the late 80s/early 90s.

  7. #37
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    The first flyby of a Kuiper Belt object - what a great time to be alive!

    I was a teenager when NH was launched and have followed almost half of my life. It's amazing to think we'll get some super high res images of Ultima in a week!

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Radiation_Specialist View Post
    The first flyby of a Kuiper Belt object - what a great time to be alive!

    I was a teenager when NH was launched and have followed almost half of my life. It's amazing to think we'll get some super high res images of Ultima in a week!
    Isn't Pluto considered a KBO these days, making this the second flyby? Still extremely cool. I didn't realize the next encounter was to be so soon. We really do live in the future.
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  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Isn't Pluto considered a KBO these days, making this the second flyby? Still extremely cool. I didn't realize the next encounter was to be so soon. We really do live in the future.
    Yes, my mistake, Pluto is technically a KBO. This makes it the flyby of the furthest object ever (to keep the theme of using superlatives).

  10. #40
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    "Encounters with Distant Worlds: An Interview with New Horizons' Alan Stern (Exclusive)"

    https://www.space.com/42843-new-hori...interview.html

    NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is on track for a Jan. 1 flyby of Ultima Thule, a distant Kuiper Belt object that lies 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto.
    The encounter will be the farthest planetary flyby in history. What New Horizons will see is a mystery, and mission principal investigator Alan Stern is prepared for puzzlement.

    The stalwart, piano-size probe — designed, built and operated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland — already has one exploration milestone under its belt: it zoomed past Pluto in July 2015. [NASA's New Horizons Mission in Pictures]

    Stern, who's based at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, literally wrote the book on that mission, along with astrobiologist David Grinspoon — "Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto" (Picador, 2018).

    Space.com caught up with Stern recently to talk about New Horizons and the imminent record-setting flyby of Ultima Thule, which scientists think is about 23 miles (37 km) wide.
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  11. #41
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    "Mysterious deep space world Ultima Thule already looks weird — and we've only had a glimpse"

    https://mashable.com/article/ultima-.../#YtGgkZeYksq4

    Ultima Thule — an uncharted world over 4 billion miles away — is coming into view.

    On Monday, planetary scientists released a fuzzy image of Ultima Thule, snapped the day prior by the New Horizons exploration spacecraft from some 1.2 million miles away. Previously, New Horizons swooped by Pluto in 2015, capturing the icy, mountainous world in unprecedented detail.

    Increasingly rich, detailed images of Ultima will start arriving on January 2, but already the deep space object looks elongated, not round, said New Horizons deputy project scientist John Spencer from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the Maryland headquarters of the New Horizons program. The program is a collaborative effort between NASA, the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where scientists navigate and control the spacecraft.

    "It’s the first glimpse of what's going to get rapidly better from here on — it’s our first taste," Spencer said.
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  12. #42
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    I just finished watching NASA live and the spacecraft is operating nominally and will be sending data captured during the flyby for the next 20 months. There was no indication of when the first images will be received.

  13. #43
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    Kuiper Belt Extended Mission (KEM) (Ex New Horizons)

    Data transmission starts later today including “failsafe” imagery. Keep an eye on Emily Lakdawalla’s twitter feed for updates.

    I recall reading that the better imagery will show up on Thursday.

    The NH images are not sent directly to the web but go through JPL and NASA.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/elakdawal...28685187858432

    ETA: Flyby “what to expect” story:

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily...ima-thule.html

  14. #44
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    Emily Lakdawalla with new year wishes and an artist's impression of Ultima Thule.

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily...y-success.html

    New Horizons has "phoned home" as expected, 4 hours after its closest approach to 2014 MU69. Its brief transmission contained no science data, but gave the scientists welcome news: the spacecraft data recorders were exactly as full as expected, and the spacecraft systems all perfectly healthy. We still won't know until science data transmission begins this afternoon if the pointing of the spacecraft was on target, but all signs are good. New Horizons has successfully pulled off the most distant flyby ever.

    They released one more image today, the last one returned before the encounter. It's still just a blob, but we now can say that the object is bilobate and about 35 by 15 kilometers. It could still be two distinct objects orbiting very close to each other, but is more likely a single object with two lobes -- like comets Halley, Borrelly, Hartley 2, and Churyumov-Gerasimenko -- a common shape in the solar system. Space science artist James Tuttle Keane provided the mission with a sketch of its likely appearance.
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  15. #45
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    Emily Lakdawalla on how contact binary form.

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily...ct-binary.html

    This is a textbook example of a contact binary. Binary means two objects, of course, and contact means that they’re in contact with each other. Separated binaries are very common in the solar system and especially common in the Kuiper belt. But how can a contact binary form? Is it even plausible for two mutually orbiting bodies to somehow come together so gently and just stick to each other while preserving their originally round shape over billions of years?

    Solar system formation theorists have been considering this problem for a long time, because bi-lobed worlds are actually the commonest shape among cometary nuclei. The first comet we ever saw up close, 1P/Halley, has that shape. So do 19P/Borrelly, 103P/Hartley 2, and -- an extreme case -- 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the comet visited by Rosetta. Other comets imaged by radar seem to have that shape, too. Thanks to Daniel Macháček for this marvelous montage. Churyumov-Gerasimenko is in the upper left corner, in all its capybara-esque cuteness.
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  16. #46
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    I never thought about how common contact binaries are among comet nuclei. Very cool.
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  17. #47
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    About two years to get all the data back.

    Any other targets being talked about?

    They don't want another pale blue dot--'cause might burn out the camera, or so I've heard.

  18. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    About two years to get all the data back.

    Any other targets being talked about?

    They don't want another pale blue dot--'cause might burn out the camera, or so I've heard.
    Not sure why another pale blue dot is necessary. There's no scientific value, and any sort of sentimental value is already satisfied by the original photo or the one Cassini took.

  19. #49
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    Although New Horizon is in a solar communication blackout period, both New Horizon and the team here on earth are being kept busy!

    https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2019...es-flyby-data/

    As New Horizons and its scientists prepare for the end of a solar conjunction in two days and the resumption of science data downlink from the craft of its historic flyby of 2014 MU69 on New Year’s Day, Alan Stern and his team are busy analyzing the first few datasets returned from the spacecraft before the solar conjunction began on 4 January.
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  20. #50
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    1st look at Ultima Thule: 2 pages, 2 photos, brief initial results (1.5 MB).

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1901.02578

    Overview of initial results from the reconnaissance flyby of a Kuiper Belt planetesimal: 2014 MU69

    S.A. Stern, et al. (Submitted on 9 Jan 2019)

    The centerpiece objective of the NASA New Horizons first Kuiper Extended Mission (KEM-1) was the close flyby of the Kuiper Belt Object KBO) 2014 MU69, nicknamed Ultima Thule. On 1 Jan 2019 this flyby culminated, making the first close observations of a small KBO. Initial post flyby trajectory reconstruction indicated the spacecraft approached to within 3536 km of MU69 at 5:33:19 UT. Here we summarize the earliest results obtained from that successful flyby. At the time of this submission, only 4 days of data down-link from the flyby were available; well over an order of magnitude more data will be down-linked by the time of this Lunar and Planetary Science Conference presentation in 2019 March. Therefore many additional results not available at the time of this abstract submission will be presented in this review talk.

  21. #51
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    A prediction for the results of the recon of Ultima Thule. Was he correct?


    https://arxiv.org/abs/1901.02850

    Ultima Thule: a Prediction for the Origin, Bulk Chemical Composition, and Physical Structure, submitted prior to the New Horizons Spacecraft 100 Pixel LORRI Data Return

    Andrew J. R. Prentice (Submitted on 9 Jan 2019)

    The 2019 January 01 flypast of Ultima Thule by the New Horizons spacecraft has provided the author with a new opportunity to test his gas ring model of planetary origin (Prentice, 1978, Moon Planets 19 341). The model proposes that Ultima Thule condensed from the first gas ring shed by the gravitationally contracting protosolar cloud. I use the fully quantified gas ring model to compute the thermal properties of the gas ring in which Ultima condensed and thence to predict the initial bulk chemical composition of the condensate. It is predicted that all KBOs initially contained large stores of CO2 ice and CH4 ices. These make up fractions 0.2210 and 0.0513 of the condensate mass, respectively. Water ice makes up a mass fraction 0.1845, nearly-dry rock has fraction 0.5269 and graphite has 0.0163. Next, I compute the thermal evolution of Ultima, taking into account the radiogenic heat released by the decay of 26Al. Stellar occultation data suggest that Ultima Thule may consist of 2 lobes of radius about 10 km and 7.5 km. The thermal evolution model shows that within 0.2 Myr, the peak internal temperatures are sufficient for a fraction ~0.7 of the CH4 ice in the larger lobe to melt and for a fraction ~0.4 of the CO2 ice to sublime. For the smaller lobe, these fractions are less. Liquid CH4 quickly migrates upwards to the surface and refreezes to form a thick outer shell of CH4 ice. The sublimation of CO2 takes place after the melting of CH4. The possibility now exists for rising CO2 vapour to become trapped beneath the CH4 shell. This may lead to explosive eruptions of the outer shell and destruction of the primordial surface of Ultima and loss of the CO2. If 60% of CO2 is lost, the lobe radii each shrinks by ~5%. Even so, the intensity of 26Al radiogenic heating may not be sufficient to render the surface of Ultima Thule globally smooth, unless the lobe sizes are of order ~15 km.

  22. #52
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    New Horizons should be coming out of superior conjunction today. I'd be curious when we might see more images and at higher resolution. The initial image was just a tease!

  23. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    New Horizons should be coming out of superior conjunction today. I'd be curious when we might see more images and at higher resolution. The initial image was just a tease!
    Hoe long do you expect the data to be received?

  24. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by bknight View Post
    How long do you expect the data to be received?
    Long term, my understanding is that the science data will require the better part of a year to download. The last data from the July 2015 Pluto flyby was received in October 2016. But I thought I read that higher-res images would appear soon after leaving superior conjunction, "soon" being relative. From the JPL site:

    The team will continue posting LORRI images within 24 hours of their receipt on the ground during the first two weeks of January 2019, provided NASA has approved their release. After that, images received at the New Horizons Science Operations Center through each Tuesday at 5 pm ET will be posted on the following Friday. The date/time in the image caption is when the picture was taken by the spacecraft, though receipt of the data on Earth could be many days later.

    In addition, the fully validated and calibrated images will be made available at NASA's Planetary Data System within a year after receipt of all images on the ground. All images will be available to the public, but please refer to the official New Horizons Image Use Policy for guidance on their use and attribution.
    Actually in re-reading that information it may be Friday, January 18, before we next see images. In any case the image release timing is controlled by NASA and the JPL.

  25. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    1st look at Ultima Thule: 2 pages, 2 photos, brief initial results (1.5 MB).

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1901.02578

    Overview of initial results from the reconnaissance flyby of a Kuiper Belt planetesimal: 2014 MU69

    S.A. Stern, et al. (Submitted on 9 Jan 2019)

    The centerpiece objective of the NASA New Horizons first Kuiper Extended Mission (KEM-1) was the close flyby of the Kuiper Belt Object KBO) 2014 MU69, nicknamed Ultima Thule. On 1 Jan 2019 this flyby culminated, making the first close observations of a small KBO. Initial post flyby trajectory reconstruction indicated the spacecraft approached to within 3536 km of MU69 at 5:33:19 UT. Here we summarize the earliest results obtained from that successful flyby. At the time of this submission, only 4 days of data down-link from the flyby were available; well over an order of magnitude more data will be down-linked by the time of this Lunar and Planetary Science Conference presentation in 2019 March. Therefore many additional results not available at the time of this abstract submission will be presented in this review talk.
    3536 km is pretty darn impressive. That's not much over half the radius of earth!
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  26. #56
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    Science art anticipates real life.


    https://phys.org/news/2019-01-scient...-asteroid.html

    Scientist anticipated "snowman" asteroid appearance
    January 15, 2019 by Alan Fischer, Planetary Science Institute

    [[article about artist/scientist Bill Hartmann, w/ art of "snowman" asteroids and Ultima Thule.]]

  27. #57
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    New photos of Ultima Thule released.

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily...s-of-mu69.html

    New Horizons is back in action after going quiet for a period of solar conjunction following the 1 January flyby of 2014 MU69 (informally nicknamed "Ultima Thule"). The spacecraft is returning new data, as exemplified by these images, shared this morning in a tweet by principal investigator Alan Stern. The pictures were taken before closest approach and don't add anything much in the way of news about the world, but: new images, woohoo!!!
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  28. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    New photos of Ultima Thule released.

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily...s-of-mu69.html
    Yes, although Alan Stern says higher res images will arrive in late February.

    https://twitter.com/AlanStern/status...36157565276162

  29. #59
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    "New Movie Shows Ultima Thule from an Approaching New Horizons"

    http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/...?page=20190115

    This movie shows the propeller-like rotation of Ultima Thule in the nine hours between 20:00 UT (3 p.m. ET) on Dec. 31, 2018, and 05:01 UT (12:01 a.m.) on Jan. 1, 2019, as seen by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard NASA's New Horizons as the spacecraft sped toward its close encounter with the Kuiper Belt object at 05:33 UT (12:33 a.m. ET) on Jan. 1.

    During this deep-space photo shoot – part of the farthest planetary flyby in history – New Horizons' range to Ultima Thule decreased from 310,000 miles (500,000 kilometers, farther than the distance from the Earth to the Moon) to just 17,100 miles (28,000 kilometers), during which the images became steadily larger and more detailed. The team processed two different image sequences; the bottom sequence shows the images at their original relative sizes, while the top corrects for the changing distance, so that Ultima Thule (officially named 2014 MU69) appears at constant size but becomes more detailed as the approach progresses.

    All the images have been sharpened using scientific techniques that enhance detail. The original image scale is 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) per pixel in the first frame, and 0.08 miles (0.14 kilometers) per pixel in the last frame. The rotation period of Ultima Thule is about 16 hours, so the movie covers little more than half a rotation. Among other things, the New Horizons science team will use these images to help determine the three-dimensional shape of Ultima Thule, in order to better understand its nature and origin.
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  30. #60
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    Ze latest from New Horizons on frosty the snowman taken from 4,200miles (6,700kms), 135m/pixel .. this time, apparently complete with a face including eyes, nostrils and a mouth!:

    http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/...?page=20190124

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