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New Horizons : A Meeting further away than ever

1. In January, shortly after 6 a.m. German time, the space probe "New Horizons is planned" the Dwarf "(486958) 2014 MU69" approach. If all goes well it will spark then shots to the earth. Here, first data would arrive but not until 12 hours later. It would be a distance of 6.5 billion kilometers, the farthest from earth ever took place the meeting of a space probe with a celestial body.

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"Ultima Thule" - called TRANS-Neptunian object is part of the Kuiper belt. "We expect it to be the best-preserved planetary building block that we have ever explored," says head of mission, Alan Stern. Astronomers hope to gain information about the early days of planet formation, and the state of the solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago. Known the, which started in 2006, about the piano was, to a large probe "New Horizons" in the past, mainly due to their spectacular and scientifically valuable images of Pluto in 2015.

The "New Horizons"Team has spent the last few weeks intensively searching for potential hazards for the probe, such as moons or rocks in the surroundings of the object, but could give the green light. So that New Horizons can fly "" now even three times closer to the "Ultima Thule" as Pluto at a distance of around 3500 km and with 51 to 500 kilometers per hour. Communication with earth will take around twelve hours, but twelve hours after the flyby, Nasa expected then photos and first data.

The 700-million-Euro "New Horizons"Mission has a lot. In January 2006, the probe was launched from the spaceport at Cape Canaveral in the U.S. state of Florida, 2006 to the orbit of Mars passed by and was shortly thereafter discovered a small asteroid that was later christened "APL". In 2007 she had approached the Jupiter to approximately 2.3 million kilometers, in 2008 the orbit of Saturn, traverses, 2011, the of Uranus, and in 2014, Neptune.

2015, then the long-awaited Meeting with Pluto.

Ultima Thule is ultima missio

And also the Mission to "Ultima Thule" is not likely to be final. Everything goes smoothly, would send the Nasa "New Horizons" to other objects in the Kuiper belt. This ring-shaped Region, contains, according to estimates of scientists, tens of thousands of objects.

"The flyby of "Ultima Thule" is fast, challenging, and he will bring new Knowledge. Because it is the farthest exploration of something in the history of mankind, it is also historically," says head of mission star. "What "will reveal Ultima Thule"? No one knows it. This is the most exciting for me - pure research and the fundamental science!"

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Mission in the Kuiper belt, The dwarfs beyond Pluto

Otto Wöhrbach

rif/dpa

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