Astrophysicist Brian May, who is also the lead guitarist for the band Queen, launched a brand new single referred to as “New Horizons” directly after midnight EST (0500 GMT) on New Year’s Day to focus on the flyby, which peaked about half-hour later when the NASA spacecraft zoomed inside 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) of Ultima Thule.
Ultima lies about 4 billion miles (6.4 billion km) from Earth and is now the farthest-flung celestial physique ever to be visited by a spacecraft. “This challenge made music in my head, and that is what you are listening to,” May advised reporters on Monday (Dec. 31). “This mission is about human curiosity,” he added. “It concerns the want of humankind to exit and discover.”
After its well-known flyby of Pluto in July 2015, New Horizons started a prolonged mission to go to one other object within the Kuiper Belt, a band of icy rocks past Neptune’s orbit. That second goal is formally referred to as 2014 MU69 and has been nicknamed Ultima Thule by the mission crew.
In visiting some of the primitive and pristine objects within the solar system’s darkish outer reaches, New Horizons is probing the constructing blocks of planets, and the solar system’s earliest historical past. The 22-mile-huge (35 km) Ultima Thule is the primary small Kuiper Belt object ever visited. This makes the encounter extremely intriguing, as a result of “there’s nothing extra thrilling in a world of exploration than going to a spot about which you know nothing,” May stated. “The sky is the restrict for what we might discover out.”