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  • richardmitnick 9:48 am on December 31, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , New Horizons, , Ultima Thule   

    From The New York Times: “NASA’s New Horizons Will Visit Ultima Thule on New Year’s Day” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    Dec. 31, 2018
    Kenneth Chang

    The probe that visited Pluto will study a mysterious icy world just after midnight. Ultima Thule will be the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft.

    We should get a clearer look at the Kuiper Belt object, Ultima Thule, when the New Horizons spacecraft, which took this composite image between August and mid-December, flies by on Jan. 1. Credit NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

    NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which flew past Pluto in 2015, will zip past another icy world nicknamed Ultima Thule on New Year’s Day, gathering information on what is believed to be a pristine fragment from the earliest days of the solar system.

    NASA New Horizons spacecraft

    It will be the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft.

    At 12:33 a.m. Eastern time, New Horizons will pass within about 2,200 miles of Ultima Thule, speeding at 31,500 m.p.h.

    How do I watch the flyby?

    Though it is a NASA spacecraft, the New Horizons mission is operated by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland. Coverage of the flyby will be broadcast on the lab’s website and YouTube channel as well as NASA TV. On Twitter, updates will appear on @NewHorizons2015, the account maintained by S. Alan Stern, the principal investigator for the mission, and on NASA’s @NASANewHorizons account.

    While the scientists will celebrate the moment of flyby as if it were New Year’s, they will have no idea how the mission is actually going at that point. The spacecraft, busy making its science observations, will not turn to send a message back to Earth until a few hours later. Then it will take six hours for that radio signal, traveling at the speed of light, to reach Earth.

    Tell me about this small frozen world

    Based on suggestions from the public, the New Horizons team chose a nickname for the world: Ultima Thule, which means “distant places beyond the known world.” Officially, it is 2014 MU69, a catalog designation assigned by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center. The “2014” refers to the year it was discovered, the result of a careful scan of the night sky by the Hubble Space Telescope for targets that New Horizons might be able to fly by after its Pluto encounter.

    No telescope on Earth has been able to clearly spot MU69. Even sharp-eyed Hubble can make out only a dot of light. Scientists estimate that it is 12 to 22 miles wide, and that it is dark, reflecting about 10 percent of the light that hits it.

    Four billion miles from the sun, MU69 is a billion miles farther out than Pluto, part of the ring of icy worlds beyond Neptune known as the Kuiper belt. Its orbit, nearly circular, suggests that it has been undisturbed since the birth of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago.

    Why do planetary scientists care about this small thing 4 billion miles from the sun?

    Every time a spacecraft visits an asteroid or a comet, planetary scientists talk about how it is a precious time capsule from the solar system’s baby days when the planets were forming. That is true, but especially true for Ultima Thule.

    Asteroids around the solar system have collided with each other and broken apart. Comets partially vaporize each time they pass close to the sun. But Ultima Thule may have instead been in a deep freeze the whole time, perhaps essentially pristine since it formed 4.5 billion years ago.

    Will there be pictures of Ultima Thule?

    New Horizons has been taking pictures for months, but for most of that time Ultima Thule has been little more than a dot in any of these images.

    At a news conference on Tuesday morning after the flyby, the scientists expect to release a picture taken before the flyby. Ultima Thule is expected to be a mere six pixels wide in that picture — enough to get a rough idea of its shape but not much more.

    The first set of images captured by New Horizons during the flyby should be back on Earth by Tuesday evening, and those are to be shown at news conferences describing the science results on Wednesday and Thursday.

    But when the pictures come, they could be striking — in case you forgot what kind of pictures New Horizons took when it flew past Pluto, here are some highlights of its findings.

    Isn’t NASA closed?

    Yes, NASA is one of the agencies affected by the partial federal government shutdown, and most NASA employees are currently furloughed. However, missions in space, including New Horizons, are considered essential activities. (It would be a shame if NASA had to throw away spacecraft costing hundreds of millions of dollars.)

    NASA will not be issuing news releases, but the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory public affairs staff will get the news out, and on Friday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine indicated that the agency would continue providing information on New Horizons as well as Osiris-Rex, a mission that is exploring a near-earth asteroid, Bennu.

    NASA OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft

    What happens after the flyby?

    Because New Horizons is so far away, its radio signal is weak, and the data will trickle back over the next 20 months. At the same time, it will make observations of other objects in the Kuiper belt to compare with Ultima Thule.

    The spacecraft has enough propellant left to possibly head to a third target, but that depends on whether there is anything close enough along its path. Astronomers, busy with Ultima Thule, have yet to start that new search.

    Beyond that, New Horizons will continue heading out of the solar system. Powered by a plutonium power source, it will to take data and communicate home with Earth for perhaps another 20 years, headed out of the solar system. However, it is not moving quite as fast as the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft that have now both entered interstellar space, so it is unclear whether New Horizons will make a similar crossing before its power runs out.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 12:08 pm on December 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    From Astronomy Now: “Ultima Thule poses an initial surprise for New Horizons team” 

    Astronomy Now bloc

    From Astronomy Now

    23 December 2018

    Hints about Ultima Thule’s shape were gleaned during occultation observations in 2017 when the Kuiper Belt body passed in front of the star seen here. Researchers will finally get a close up view 1 January when NASA’s New Horizons probe flies past. Image: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

    Over the past three months, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has been racing toward a New Year’s Day flyby of a Kuiper Belt object known as Ultima Thule, snapping hundreds of photos to measure the body’s brightness and rotation.

    NASA New Horizons spacecraft

    But the images do not show any hints of rotation, even though observations in 2017 showed Ultima Thule is not shaped like a sphere. Rather, it is an elongated body or perhaps made up of two asteroid-like objects in direct contact or very close together. One would expect such a body to be rotating and the light reflected from it to oscillate.

    “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.”

    Researchers have three potential explanations. Ultima’s rotation axis could be aimed at or close to New Horizon’s trajectory. Another explanation is that Ultima “may be surrounded by a cloud of dust that obscures its light curve, much the way a comet’s coma often overwhelms the light reflected by its central nucleus,” said Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute.

    But that would require some sort of heat source and at 6.4 billion kilometres (4 billion miles) from the sun, that does not seem likely.

    “An even more bizarre scenario is one in which Ultima is surrounded by many tiny tumbling moons,” said Anne Verbiscer, a New Horizons assistant project scientist at the University of Virginia. “If each moon has its own light curve, then together they could create a jumbled superposition of light curves that make it look to New Horizons like Ultima has a small light curve.”

    But nothing like that has ever been seen.

    “It’s hard to say which of these ideas is right,” Stern said. “Perhaps its even something we haven’t even thought of. In any case, we’ll get to the bottom of this puzzle soon.”

    New Horizons is on course to race past Ultima and take high-resolution images on 31 December and 1 January. The first close-up images will be available on Earth just a day later.

    “When we see those high-resolution images,” Stern said, “we’ll know the answer to Ultima’s vexing, first puzzle. Stay tuned!”

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 11:14 am on December 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    From New Horizons via Science Alert: “The Very First Space Event of 2019 Was Just Confirmed: Ultima Thule, Here We Come” 

    NASA image


    NASA/New Horizons spacecraft

    From New Horizons


    Science Alert

    19 DEC 2018

    Whatever you’re doing for your New Year’s celebrations, it’s not going to be as awesome as New Horizons. On New Year’s Day, the space probe will zoom right up close past an object in the Kuiper Belt called 2014 MU69 – nicknamed Ultima Thule.

    Depiction of Ultima Thule. (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Steve Gribben)

    This will make Ultima Thule the farthest Solar System object to be visited by a spacecraft (the Voyager probes’ last encounters were with Saturn for Voyager 1 and Neptune for Voyager 2).

    New Horizons has mostly been napping after it left Pluto behind nearly three-and-a-half years ago, in July 2015. It’s travelled a distance of nearly a billion miles (1.6 billion kilometres) since then, and it’s pretty much right on schedule.

    However, pinning down an exact date for the flyby wasn’t possible until recently, because NASA scientists had no idea what hazards exist in the space around the object.

    New Horizons sent back its first images of Ultima Thule in August, and since then, a team has been working to map those hazards so they could plot the best course to avoid them – at breakneck speeds of 50,700 kilometres per hour (31,500 miles per hour), even a tiny impact could destroy the spacecraft.

    And they can’t just take first-person control of New Horizons, swerving obstacles like you’d do in a sci-fi space plane. They need to know ahead of time what they’re dealing with, because communication with the probe is incredibly slow.

    At time of writing, New Horizons is 44.10 astronomical units from Earth – or around 6.11 light-hours. That means that, even though radio waves travel at light speed, they still take over 6 hours to reach the probe.

    Composite of hundreds of images shot by LORRI. (NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

    But, of course, the New Horizons team has now seen what’s in the space around Ultima Thule using the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), and there are no hazards such as moons or rings that will hinder the trip.

    New Horizons is going to be travelling along a pretty direct line, and will reconnoitre with Ultima Thule at a distance of just 3,500 kilometres (2,200 miles).

    If it had had to detour, its flyby would have been a much greater distance, and would show Ultima Thule in less detail. The image above shows the two flyby distances. The yellow dot in the middle is Ultima Thule, and X marks the ideal flyby distance. The larger circle is the flyby distance that would have been used if hazards had been detected.

    “Our team feels like we have been riding along with the spacecraft, as if we were mariners perched on the crow’s nest of a ship, looking out for dangers ahead,” said hazards team lead Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute.

    “The team was in complete consensus that the spacecraft should remain on the closer trajectory, and mission leadership adopted our recommendation.”

    So what is Ultima Thule (pronounced thoo-lee)? Although its name is strangely reminiscent of Conan the Barbarian villain Thulsa Doom, the meaning is actually much nerdier.

    Thule was a mythical island that appeared in the far North on medieval maps; the name means “beyond Thule”, or beyond the borders of our known sphere.

    What we know about it is that it’s an irregular chunk of rock in the Kuiper belt of asteroids. It’s either two asteroids joined together, or a very close binary, with one measuring around 20 kilometres across, and the other 18 kilometres across (12 and 11 miles). It has a reddish hue, and takes over 296 years to complete one full orbit of the Sun.

    New Horizons’ closest approach will be just after midnight, at 00:33 EST, and it’s expected that it will answer some of the burning questions we have about Ultima Thule. What exactly is it? What does it look like? What makes it red? What is its surface composition? And does it have methane or ice?

    Once these questions are answered, the team will choose a formal permanent name to submit to the IAU. But for now, everyone is getting amped up for the history-making flyby.

    “The spacecraft is now targeted for the optimal flyby, over three times closer than we flew to Pluto,” said New Horizons’ principal investigator Alan Stern. “Ultima, here we come!”

    See the full article here .


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    The New Horizons mission is helping us understand worlds at the edge of our solar system by making the first reconnaissance of the dwarf planet Pluto and by venturing deeper into the distant, mysterious Kuiper Belt – a relic of solar system formation.

    The Journey

    New Horizons launched on Jan. 19, 2006; it swung past Jupiter for a gravity boost and scientific studies in February 2007, and conducted a six-month-long reconnaissance flyby study of Pluto and its moons in summer 2015, culminating with Pluto closest approach on July 14, 2015. As part of an extended mission, pending NASA approval, the spacecraft is expected to head farther into the Kuiper Belt to examine another of the ancient, icy mini-worlds in that vast region, at least a billion miles beyond Neptune’s orbit.

    Sending a spacecraft on this long journey is helping us to answer basic questions about the surface properties, geology, interior makeup and atmospheres on these bodies.

    New Science

    The National Academy of Sciences has ranked the exploration of the Kuiper Belt – including Pluto – of the highest priority for solar system exploration. Generally, New Horizons seeks to understand where Pluto and its moons “fit in” with the other objects in the solar system, such as the inner rocky planets (Earth, Mars, Venus and Mercury) and the outer gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune).

    Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, belong to a third category known as “ice dwarfs.” They have solid surfaces but, unlike the terrestrial planets, a significant portion of their mass is icy material.

    Using Hubble Space Telescope images, New Horizons team members have discovered four previously unknown moons of Pluto: Nix, Hydra, Styx and Kerberos.

    A close-up look at these worlds from a spacecraft promises to tell an incredible story about the origins and outskirts of our solar system. New Horizons is exploring – for the first time – how ice dwarf planets like Pluto and Kuiper Belt bodies have evolved over time.

    The Need to Explore

    The United States has been the first nation to reach every planet from Mercury to Neptune with a space probe. New Horizons is allowing the U.S. to complete the initial reconnaissance of the solar system.

    A Team Approach

    The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, designed, built, and operates the New Horizons spacecraft and manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

  • richardmitnick 6:00 pm on October 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    From Spaceflight Insider: “New Horizons team previews Ultima Thule flyby” 


    From Spaceflight Insider

    October 27th, 2018
    Laurel Kornfeld

    An artist’s illustration of New Horizons flying by the Kuiper Belt Object Ultima Thule. Image Credit NASA / JPL / JHUAPL

    In an Oct. 24 online press conference broadcast from the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) 50th Annual Meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee, four members of NASA’s New Horizons team presented a preview of the spacecraft’s Jan. 1, 2019, flyby of Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) Ultima Thule, now just 10 weeks away.

    The presenting speakers included principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), science team collaborator Carey Lisse of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL), project scientist Hal Weaver, also of JHUAPL, and co-investigator Kelsi Singer, also of SwRI.

    Because Ultima Thule is so far away, details cannot yet be resolved and are not expected to be until about a day before the closest approach. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

    Stern said this flyby will be more challenging than New Horizons’ Pluto flyby in July 2015 because Ultima Thule is located a billion miles beyond Pluto and much about it remains unknown. Mission scientists are still uncertain about its exact position and the presence of any potentially hazardous rings or moons. The spacecraft is older than it was at Pluto and has less battery power now while light levels are lower at such a great distance from the Sun.

    Additionally, communication between Earth and the spacecraft takes six hours one way, as opposed to four-and-a-half hours to Pluto.

    “New Horizons is going to have the capacity, in the space of one week, the first week of January 2019, to confirm or refute the very models [of solar system formation] presented here at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting,” Stern said.

    Ultima Thule is estimated to be about 23 miles (37 kilometers) wide, much smaller than Pluto, which has a diameter of 1,477 miles (2,377 kilometers). For this reason, pre-flyby images 10 weeks before closest approach reveal just a dot rather than the increasing level of detail seen on Pluto during the same time frame. Details on the KBO will not be resolved until about one day before closest approach, Stern said.

    In addition to being the most distant object ever explored by a spacecraft, Ultima Thule, which is about ten times as wide and 1,000 times as massive as Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which was orbited by the Rosetta spacecraft, is set to be the most primitive object studied by a spacecraft.

    ESA/Rosetta spacecraft

    ESA Rosetta Philae Lander

    To preview what the KBO’s surface might look like, Lisse presented images of Comet Wild 2, Saturn’s moon Phoebe, Saturn’s moon Hyperion, and Comet 67P.

    All seven instruments aboard New Horizons will study Ultima Thule. Between now and the flyby, mission scientists will prepare by monitoring changes in the KBO’s brightness to determine its size, shape, and rotation speed, search for moons and other potential hazards to the spacecraft, and refine navigation if hazards are found, Weaver explained.

    Diversion from the optimal closest approach of 2,170 miles (3,500 kilometers) can be made as late as Dec. 16 if hazards are discovered. An alternate, safer approach would bring New Horizons within 6,200 miles (10,000 kilometers) of Ultima Thule. Image resolution will be better than that obtained at Pluto because of the closer approach.

    Possible Shapes of Ultima Thule. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.

    Singer outlined the mission’s goals as mapping the KBO’s geology and morphology and mapping its color and composition. Specifically, scientists will look for craters and grooves and various ices, including ammonia, carbon monoxide, methane, and water ice. They will also determine whether Ultima Thule is a binary or contact binary object or a double-lobed object like Comet 67P.

    Because KBOs are composed of pristine materials left over from the formation of the solar system, studying Ultima Thule’s ices will give scientists insight into the materials from which Earth and the solar system’s other planets were built.

    Mission scientists also hope to find answers as to why Ultima Thule, a very dark object, is slightly brighter than expected. They do not expect to find active geology or an atmosphere on such a small object.

    “This will be our first ground truth, our first close look at what makes these [Kuiper Belt] objects dark and red,” Singer said.

    Kuiper Belt. Minor Planet Center

    As done at Pluto, New Horizons will return a final image of Ultima Thule just before closest approach, then remain out of contact with Earth, instead focusing on data collection. Between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. EST (15:00-15:30 GMT) Jan. 1, a signal from the probe is expected to arrive, confirming it survived the flyby.

    New Horizons will continue to study the KBO and its environment for a short time after closest approach. Return of the data collected will continue through late 2020.

    Ultima Thule Timeline Overview. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

    Laurel Kornfeld is an amateur astronomer and freelance writer from Highland Park, NJ, who enjoys writing about astronomy and planetary science.

    HPHS Owls

    She studied journalism at Douglass College, Rutgers University, and earned a Graduate Certificate of Science from Swinburne University’s Astronomy Online program.

    Her writings have been published online in The Atlantic, Astronomy magazine’s guest blog section, the UK Space Conference, the 2009 IAU General Assembly newspaper, The Space Reporter, and newsletters of various astronomy clubs. She is a member of the Cranford, NJ-based Amateur Astronomers, Inc. Especially interested in the outer solar system, Laurel gave a brief presentation at the 2008 Great Planet Debate held at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, MD.

    [Sorry folks, I could not resist the references to my home town and my university]

    See the full article here .


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    SpaceFlight Insiderreports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

  • richardmitnick 2:12 pm on April 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    From SETI Institute: “Introducing “Ultima Thule”: NASA’s Ultimate Destination in the Kuiper Belt!” 

    SETI Logo new
    SETI Institute

    March 13, 2018

    Thule (here spelled “Tile”) as it appeared on a 1539 map. No image credit.

    NASA/New Horizons spacecraft

    NASA and the New Horizons team are pleased to announce that our target body in the Kuiper Belt, formally known as “(486958) 2014 MU69”, is being nicknamed Ultima Thule. The name comes from medieval mapmakers, where Thule (pronounced “thoo-lee”) was a distant and unknown island thought to be the northernmost place on Earth. “Ultima Thule” (which translates as “farthest Thule” or “beyond Thule”) has come to be used as a metaphor for any mysterious place “beyond the borders of the known world”. This is an apt metaphor for the tiny object, four billion miles away, that will be the next destination of the New Horizons spacecraft.

    The name was nominated independently by about 40 participants in the Frontier Worlds campaign, and was ranked very highly in the voting. Ultima Thule will serve as the unofficial nickname for MU69 through the flyby on New Year’s day, 2019. Later in 2019, we will work with the International Astronomical Union to establish a formal, permanent name for the body.

    Thank you to everyone who participated in the naming campaign! Now join us on our ultimate journey.

    –Mark Showalter and the New Horizons Science Team

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 8:34 am on March 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    From JHUAPL via EarthSky: “Pluto craft’s next target is Ultima Thule” 

    Johns Hopkins
    Johns Hopkins University

    Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab bloc
    JHU Applied Physics Lab


    March 14, 2018
    Deborah Byrd

    NASA/New Horizons spacecraft

    passed Pluto in 2015.

    With public input, the mission team has nicknamed the spacecraft’s next target – on the fringes of our solar system – Ultima Thule.

    This image shows New Horizons’ current position along its full planned trajectory toward MU69, now nicknamed Ultima Thule. The green segment of the line shows where the spacecraft has traveled since launch; the red indicates the spacecraft’s future path. Image via Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

    Some 115,000 people from around the world recently suggested some 34,000 possible nicknames for the distant object 2014 MU69, the next target of the New Horizons spacecraft, whose historic sweep past Pluto took place in July 2015. The New Horizons mission team announced on March 13, 2018, it has selected the name Ultima Thule – pronounced ultima thoo-lee – for New Horizon’s next target, a Kuiper Belt object officially named 2014 MU69. New Horizons will sweep closest to Ultima Thule on January 1, 2019. The mission team describes the object as:

    “… the most primitive world ever observed by spacecraft, in the farthest planetary encounter in history….”

    In a statement, the team explained their reasons for their choice:

    “Thule was a mythical, far-northern island in medieval literature and cartography. Ultima Thule means “beyond Thule” – beyond the borders of the known world – symbolizing the exploration of the distant Kuiper Belt and Kuiper Belt objects that New Horizons is performing, something never before done.”

    Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, is New Horizons’ principal investigator. He said:

    “MU69 is humanity’s next Ultima Thule. Our spacecraft is heading beyond the limits of the known worlds, to what will be this mission’s next achievement. Since this will be the farthest exploration of any object in space in history, I like to call our flyby target Ultima, for short, symbolizing this ultimate exploration by NASA and our team.”

    Artist’s conception of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft encountering 2014 MU69 – now nicknamed Ultima Thule – on January 1, 2019. This object orbits a billion miles (1.6 billion km) beyond Pluto. Evidence gathered from Earth suggests it might be a binary (double) or multiple object. Image via NASA/ Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/ SwRI/ Steve Gribben.

    NASA and the New Horizons team launched the nickname campaign in early November. Hosted by the SETI Institute of Mountain View, California, and led by Mark Showalter, an institute fellow and member of the New Horizons science team, the online contest sought nominations from the public and stipulated that a nickname would be chosen from among the top vote-getters.

    SETI Institute

    The campaign wrapped up on December 6, after a five-day extension to accommodate more voting. Of the 34,000 names suggested, 37 reached the ballot for voting and were evaluated for popularity. This included eight names suggested by the New Horizons team and 29 nominated by the public.

    The team then narrowed its selection to the 29 publicly nominated names and gave preference to names near the top of the polls. Names suggested included Abeona, Pharos, Pangu, Rubicon, Olympus, Pinnacle and Tiramisu. Final tallies in the naming contest posted here.

    About 40 members of the public nominated the name Ultima Thule. This name was one of the highest vote-getters among all name nominees. Showalter said:

    “We are grateful to those who proposed such an interesting and inspirational nickname. They deserve credit for capturing the true spirit of exploration that New Horizons embodies.”

    After the flyby, NASA and the New Horizons team say they’ll choose a formal name to submit to the International Astronomical Union, based in part on whether MU69 is found to be a single body, a binary pair, or perhaps a system of multiple objects.

    Learn more about New Horizons, NASA’s mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, at http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons and http://pluto.jhuapl.edu.

    New Horizons mission team members during the 2015 Pluto encounter. Expect more excitement to come when New Horizons encounters Ultima Thule on January 1, 2019!

    Bottom line: With public input, the New Horizons mission team has given the nickname Ultima Thule to the spacecraft’s next target, Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69.

    See the full article here .

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    Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab Campus

    Founded on March 10, 1942—just three months after the United States entered World War II—APL was created as part of a federal government effort to mobilize scientific resources to address wartime challenges.

    APL was assigned the task of finding a more effective way for ships to defend themselves against enemy air attacks. The Laboratory designed, built, and tested a radar proximity fuze (known as the VT fuze) that significantly increased the effectiveness of anti-aircraft shells in the Pacific—and, later, ground artillery during the invasion of Europe. The product of the Laboratory’s intense development effort was later judged to be, along with the atomic bomb and radar, one of the three most valuable technology developments of the war.

    On the basis of that successful collaboration, the government, The Johns Hopkins University, and APL made a commitment to continue their strategic relationship. The Laboratory rapidly became a major contributor to advances in guided missiles and submarine technologies. Today, more than seven decades later, the Laboratory’s numerous and diverse achievements continue to strengthen our nation.

    APL continues to relentlessly pursue the mission it has followed since its first day: to make critical contributions to critical challenges for our nation.

    Johns Hopkins Campus

    The Johns Hopkins University opened in 1876, with the inauguration of its first president, Daniel Coit Gilman. “What are we aiming at?” Gilman asked in his installation address. “The encouragement of research … and the advancement of individual scholars, who by their excellence will advance the sciences they pursue, and the society where they dwell.”

    The mission laid out by Gilman remains the university’s mission today, summed up in a simple but powerful restatement of Gilman’s own words: “Knowledge for the world.”

    What Gilman created was a research university, dedicated to advancing both students’ knowledge and the state of human knowledge through research and scholarship. Gilman believed that teaching and research are interdependent, that success in one depends on success in the other. A modern university, he believed, must do both well. The realization of Gilman’s philosophy at Johns Hopkins, and at other institutions that later attracted Johns Hopkins-trained scholars, revolutionized higher education in America, leading to the research university system as it exists today.

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