New Horizons fly-by at Ultima-Thule

17 Januar 2019

The interplanetary NASA spacecraft New Horizons recently conducted a fly-by around the mysterious object Ultima Thule, which lies in the Kuiper belt more than 6.4 billion km away from the Earth.

Signal travel time is about 6 hours at this distance. The maneuver, completed during midnight of January 1st 2019, is the most distant fly-by ever in the history of solar system exploration.

The radio-science investigation team from the Universty of Cologne and UniBw hopes to discover the gravitational signature of Ultima Thule in the recorded radio-signal, a very challenging problem due to the extremely small mass of the object.

The team supported science operations from the mission control centre near Washington D.C. Dr. Martin Pätzold, leading radio-sciencist and co-Investigator of the New Horizon mission talks about this unique adventure in a recent interview with WDR.