Finding MU69’s Location in Space, Argentina 2017

Finding ΜU69’s Location in Space, Argentina 2017

2018-12-31

Explanation: How do we know where our next object is? By watching it pass in front of distant stars. MU69 will cast a tiny star-shadow on Earth when it passes in front of a star from our vantage point. But, exactly where on Earth that shadow is cast is dependent on exactly where MU69 is on the sky. The NASA New Horizons mission sent teams across the planet over the last few years to wait for just such crossing events to help determine exactly where MU69 is in space. This picture was taken by Kai Getrost in Argentina in 2017.

Image credit: Kai Getrost

Finding MU69’s Location in Space, Senegal 2018

Finding MU69’s Location in Space, Senegal 2018

2018-12-30

Explanation: How do we know where our next object is? By watching it pass in front of distant stars. MU69 will cast a tiny star-shadow on Earth when it passes in front of a star from our vantage point. But, exactly where on Earth that shadow is cast is dependent on exactly where MU69 is on the sky. The NASA New Horizons mission sent teams across the planet over the last few years to wait for just such crossing events to help determine exactly where MU69 is in space. This picture was taken by Jack Jewel in Senegal in 2018, while teams were setting up for the occultation.

Image credit: Jack Jewell

Finding MU69’s Location in Space, Argentina 2017

Finding MU69’s Location in Space, Argentina 2017

2018-12-29

Explanation: How do we know where our next object is? By watching it pass in front of distant stars. MU69 will cast a tiny star-shadow on Earth when it passes in front of a star from our vantage point. But, exactly where on Earth that shadow is cast is dependent on exactly where MU69 is on the sky. The NASA New Horizons mission sent teams across the planet over the last few years to wait for just such crossing events to help determine exactly where MU69 is in space. This picture was taken by Jack Jewel in Argentina in 2017. And just to make sure we didn’t forget why they were there, they spelled out the target in light while the Milky Way shines overhead.

Image credit: Jack Jewell

MU69 Hazards Search: Approaching MU69

MU69 Hazards Search: Approaching MU69

2018-12-28

Explanation: For three weeks spanning November to December, a core team of New Horizons scientists analyzed the hundreds of images New Horizons took. Those images were of the flyby target, MU69, and the surrounding space. The images were taken in “4x4” mode, meaning that the 1024 by 1024 pixel images were binned to be 256 x 256 pixels (4 by 4). This binning let our main camera see much fainter than in normal “1x1” mode. The reason: Searching for any hazards that could harm the spacecraft. The decision was made late last week that there were no detectable hazards in our way, such that the prime trajectory was selected (letting us get as close as 3500 km away). But those images also let us see MU69 grow bigger and brighter in our cameras, and it even moved across the background of stars. This animated GIF in this Picture of the Day shows that approach.

Image credit: NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwest Research Institute / Henry Throop

First Full-Res LORRI Image of MU69 from New Horizons

First Full-Res LORRI Image of MU69 from New Horizons

2018-12-27

Explanation: This Picture of the Day was taken on December 24, 2018, by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. The camera used was LORRI, the LOng-Range Reconnaissance Imager, which is a 1 megapixel camera (1024 x 1024 pixels). LORRI has two modes, 4x4 and 1x1. 4x4 mode takes images and shrinks the size to 256 x 256 pixels which lets us see fainter objects. 1x1 mode is the full resolution. This image is the first attempt – and successful! – to see our flyby target in 1x1 mode. The image is actually a combination of three images, each taken for 0.5 seconds, averaged together to reduce the noise (see all the grey speckles? that’s image noise, just like speaker noise if you turn the volume up). But, it shows that we’re getting closer and honing in on our target!

Image credit: NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwest Research Institute

MU69 Infographic 4: A Multi-Faceted Exploration of the Kuiper Belt

MU69 Infographic 4: A Multi-Faceted Exploration of the Kuiper Belt

2018-12-26

Explanation: This is one of four infographics that we produced to show some component of the New Horizons extended mission in the Kuiper Belt. This infographic talks about the main three components of the extended mission: Studying the environment of space out so far from the sun, the close flyby of MU69, and distant – but still better than from Earth – flybys of other Kuiper Belt Objects. Click here to see all infographics for the mission.

Image credit: NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwest Research Institute

MU69 Infographic 3: How Data Gets Sent to Earth from New Horizons

MU69 Infographic 3: How Data Gets Sent to Earth from New Horizons

2018-12-25

Explanation: This is one of four infographics that we produced to show some component of the New Horizons extended mission in the Kuiper Belt. This infographic talks about the how we get data from the spacecraft back to Earth, and why that data transmission rate is seemingly slow (it takes about 6 hours to download one image). Click here to see all infographics for the mission.

Image credit: NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwest Research Institute

MU69 Infographic 2: About the MU69 Flyby

MU69 Infographic 2: About the MU69 Flyby

2018-12-24

Explanation: This is one of four infographics that we produced to show some component of the New Horizons extended mission in the Kuiper Belt. This infographic talks about the flyby of MU69 on January 1, 2019. It describes the timeline, kinds of observations, and challenges we face in making this flyby successful. Click here to see all infographics for the mission.

Image credit: NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwest Research Institute

MU69 Infographic 1: About the Kuiper Belt

MU69 Infographic 1: About the Kuiper Belt

2018-12-23

Explanation: This is one of four infographics that we produced to show some component of the New Horizons extended mission in the Kuiper Belt. This infographic talks about the Kuiper Belt, the extended mission, and the main target of the extended mission — the flyby of MU69 on January 1, 2019. Click here to see all infographics for the mission.

Image credit: NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwest Research Institute

Travel Poster to Ultima Thule!

Travel Poster to Ultima Thule!

2018-12-22

Explanation: Over the last several years, retro-style travel posters to various places in the solar system have appeared. One of the more prolific artists is Tyler Nordgren. He has already created a flyby poster for our next target, ΜU69 (nicknamed “Ultima Thule”).

Image credit: Tyler Nordgren