NASA has received a new signal from the New Horizons space probe. This means that the probe has been successfully scanned along the space rock Ultima Thule. There has been no collision and the New Horizons is still on course.
"The space probe is in good condition and it has been possible to execute the furthest passage of a celestial body," said the controller when the data came in. It delivered her applause in the flight center.
New Horizons is a planet scout from NASA. In the early morning (about 6.30 am Dutch time) he reached the space rock, about 6.6 billion kilometers from the earth, in the Kuiper belt. It is his second destination, after Pluto.
About ten hours after the flyby NASA received the signal that it had succeeded. The New Horizons flew at around 51,500 kilometers per hour along Ultima Thule, about 3500 kilometers away.
It is expected that it will take a few hours before the first forwarded photos of the piece of primal rock from the spacecraft have reached Earth. The photos in the highest resolution will not arrive until February.
Up to now, NASA had to do with photos of a few pixels. On better images, the surface of the celestial body will be seen much more clearly. For example, it must be clear whether Ultima Thule is a peanut shaped rock of 35 by 15 kilometers, or two objects that revolve around each other.
The New Horizons passed Pluto in 2015. The mission cost 700 million euros.