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New Horizons visits farthest celestial object




A Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket lifts off of pad 41 carrying NASA's Pluto New Horizons spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center January 19, 2006 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
A Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket lifts off of pad 41 carrying NASA's Pluto New Horizons spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center January 19, 2006 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Matt Stroshane/Getty Images

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Thirteen years after its launch from Cape Canaveral, the New Horizons spacecraft traveled to NASA’s furthest destination yet.

On New Year’s Eve and into the first day of the new year, New Horizons continued into the Kuiper Belt, a billion miles past Pluto, and flew by an unknown world called Ultima Thule.

New Horizons has gathered important data about Jupiter and its moons in 2007 and in 2015, arrived at Pluto and began sending back new discoveries about the Kuiper Belt and its icy inhabitants.

NASA’s operations are affected by the government shutdown but active missions like New Horizons are considered “essential” and are carrying on. The rest of NASA however is also furloughed. We reached out to NASA directly for this segment but due to the shutdown, they were unable to reply.

Very little is known about Ultima Thule but NASA thinks the world’s icy conditions may provide a snapshot in time to its formation, and potentially teach us about Earth’s origins.

With guest host Kyle Stokes

Guests:

Henry Throop, science team member on New Horizons mission; senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute headquartered in Arizona

Emily Lakdawalla, senior editor at The Planetary Society, the nonprofit space education organization