Tuesday, April 4, 2017

New Horizons Spacecraft Update

Hey Space Placers!

The New Horizons spacecraft will be at the halfway point to its next target, 2014 MU69 this Friday. The spacecraft is traveling at 32,000 miles per hour and is 3.5 BILLION miles from Earth. Controllers will place New Horizons into hibernation on April 7th after being awake and operational for the past 2 1/2 years. The spacecraft will remain in hibernation for 157 days and upon reawakening will start to prepare for the flyby of 2014 MU69 that will occur on 1/1/19.

A KBO among the Stars: In preparation for the New Horizons flyby of 2014 MU69 on Jan. 1, 2019, the spacecraft’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) took a series of 10-second exposures of the background star field near the location of its target Kuiper Belt object (KBO). This composite image is made from 45 of these 10-second exposures taken on Jan. 28, 2017. The yellow diamond marks the predicted location of MU69 on approach, but the KBO itself was too far from the spacecraft (544 million miles, or 877 million kilometers) even for LORRI’s telescopic “eye” to detect. New Horizons expects to start seeing MU69 with LORRI in September of 2018 – and the team will use these newly acquired images of the background field to help prepare for that search on approach.
Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
Sleep well New Horizons!

Sky Guy in VA

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