LAUREL, Md. – The latest news about New Horizons & # 39; New Year rendezvous from NASA (all times locally):
NASA & # 39; s New Horizons spacecraft has survived the most remote exploration of humanity from another world.
Ten hours after the midnight meeting, 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) away, flight controllers in Laurel, Maryland, received a message from the spacecraft Tuesday morning. Cheers broke loose at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, the home of Mission Control.
An anxious spill-over audience in a nearby auditorium joined the loud celebration.
New Horizons zoomed beyond the tiny celestial body known as Ultima Thule 3 1/2 years after his spectacular brush with Pluto. Scientists say it will take almost two years for New Horizons to confirm all observations of Ultima Thule, a billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto. At that distance, it takes six hours for the radio signals to reach the earth.
A NASA spacecraft opens the new year in the most distant world ever explored, a billion miles beyond Pluto.
Flight controllers say everything looked good for New Horizons & # 39; flyby from the small, icy object at 12:33. Tuesday, 3 1/2 years after his meeting with Pluto. However, confirmation will not take hours, given the enormous distance. The mysterious target with the nickname Ultima Thule (TOO-lee) is removed from the earth 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers).
Scientists want to perceive New Horizons from Ultima Thule, not call home. So they will not know until late in the morning whether the spacecraft has survived.
With New Horizons on autopilot, Mission Control at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University in Laurel, Maryland, was empty. Instead, team members and their guests gathered for back-to-back countdowns at midnight and again 33 minutes later.
Queen guitarist Brian May, who happens to be an astrophysicist, joined the team of Johns Hopkins for a midnight premiere of the song he wrote for the big event.