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Night Vision: New Horizons Update - The Ultima Thule Flyby

Posted January 9, 2019 - by Thomas Quayle

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Nearly one billion miles out beyond Pluto, a small object at the fringes of the Solar System has become the next exploratory target for New Horizons, the spacecraft sent out to explore Pluto.

An artist's rendition of 2014 MU69, informally known as Ultima Thule
An artist's rendition of 2014 MU69, informally known as Ultima Thule. (Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Steve Gribben)


Known as 2014 MU69 and informally named Ultima Thule, this object was found through a sky survey whose mission was to find objects in the Kuiper Belt within New Horizons' flight path. Orbiting the Sun once every 296 years, this ancient relic may hold clues that could give us insight into the formation of our early Solar System. 

To protect the information from the encounter much as possible, high-priority science data and images are being sent back to us first. The rest of the data will take close to a year to retrieve.

Join us for this week's Night Vision as we present a New Horizons Update: The Ultima Thule Flyby. We'll explore what it takes to find these mysterious Kuiper Belt Objects and take a look at the very first results of our most distant encounter ever. Tickets are just $2.00 per person for the public, and free for members of Clark Planetarium. Get your tickets now.