[Ed. – An extremely cool start to 2019.]
New Horizons successfully “phoned home” at 10:28 a.m. EST, letting NASA scientists know all of its systems survived the flyby of Ultima Thule. The first real images will now slowly trickle in over the coming hours and days. …
Not long after the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day, as 2018 gave way to 2019, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew by the far-out space rock Ultima Thule. At 12:33 am EST this morning, the craft passed within 2,200 miles (3,540 km) of the Kuiper Belt Object (KBO), formally known as 2014 MU69. This was the farthest object that any craft has ever visited.
Now, New Horizons will beam the first information and images from this close flyby back to Earth. However, seeing as the exploratory spacecraft is about four billion miles (6.6 billion km) from our home planet, this data takes a while to travel back to Earth. In fact, it takes more than six hours for radio signals carrying information from New Horizons to deliver the data to NASA’s Deep Space Network.