While you ring in the new year on Monday night, you can also watch along as NASA sends a spacecraft zooming by a tiny rock 4.1 billion miles from Earth. The space agency’s New Horizons probe, which flew by Pluto in 2015, is now going to fly past another object — a type of space…


While you ring in the new year on Monday night, you can also watch along as NASA sends a spacecraft zooming by a tiny rock 4.1 billion miles from Earth. The space agency’s New Horizons probe, which flew by Pluto in 2015, is now going to fly past another object — a type of space rock we’ve never been to before. And it’s all happening just as we enter the year 2019.

Just like with the Pluto flyby, the New Horizons mission team is gathered at John Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, where they will monitor the spacecraft from the facility’s mission operations center. Live streams will show what the team is up to before and during the flyby, and mission scientists will be hosting press conferences to provide updates about what New Horizons is up to.

announced on Twitter that the eventswillbe shown on NASA TV, and that the space agency would update the public on the mission with its social media accounts. If all goes to plan, NASA TV’s live stream should come online for both the flyby and the accompanying press conferences. Meanwhile, John Hopkins is not affected by the shutdown, and it plans to show the events live on its YouTube page, as well. The University also lists a number of links to follow on its website.

An artistic rendering of what Ultima Thule might look like
Image: NASA

As for the timeline of the flyby, things get started on December 31st, with a press briefing at 2PM ET. Then around the time of the flyby at 12:33AM ET on January 1st, there will be some celebrations in the missions operations center to honor the event. But at that time, we won’t know for sure if all went well. Radio communication from the spacecraft takes about six hours to reach Earth, and New Horizons won’t send a signal back to Earth until a few hours after it whizzes past the rock, called Ultima Thule. So sometime between 9:45 and 10:45AM ET, the mission team should receive that signal confirming a success.

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