NASA's New Horizons Probe 'Phones Home' in Landmark Mission to Ultima Thule

NASA’s New Horizons explorer “phoned home” on Tuesday Following a Trip to the most distant world explored by Humanity, a Suspended rock at the edge of the solar system Which scientists hope will uncover secrets to its creation.

The nuclear-powered space probe has travelled 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers ) to emerge within 2,200 miles (3,540 kilometers ) of Ultima Thule, an seemingly peanut-shaped, 20-mile-long (32-km-long) space rock in the uncharted heart of the Kuiper Belt. The buckle is a ring of icy celestial bodies only outside Neptune’s orbit.

Engineers at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland cheered if the spacecraft’s first signals came during the National Aeronautics and Space Agency’s Deep Space Network at 10:28am EST (1528 GMT).

The spacecraft will ping back more detailed graphics and information in Thule in the coming days, NASA said.

Launched in January 2006, New Horizons embarked on its own 4 billion-mile travel toward the solar system’s edge to research the dwarf planet Pluto and its five moons.

“Last night, overnght, the United States spacecraft New Horizons ran the farthest exploration at the history of humankind, also did so spectacularly,” New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern told a news conference at the Johns Hopkins centre in Laurel, Maryland.

An image of Thule, delivered overnight and barely more detailed than previous images, deepens the puzzle of if Thule is one rock shaped like a asymmetrical peanut or two stones orbiting each other,”blurred together because of their proximity,” Stern explained.

Throughout a 2015 fly-by, the probe saw Pluto to be marginally larger than previously believed. In March, it revealed methane-rich dunes on the icy dwarf world’s surface.

Now 1 billion kilometers (1.6 billion kilometers ) past Pluto for its next assignment to the Kuiper Belt, New Horizons will study the makeup of Ultima Thule’s setting and terrain at a months-long research to find clues about the creation of the solar system and its planets.

Scientists had not discovered Ultima Thule as soon as the probe was started, based on NASA, which makes the mission unique in that respect. In 2014, astronomers found Thule using the Hubble Space Telescope and the following year selected it for New Horizon’s lengthy mission.

Since the research flies 2,200 miles (3,540 km) above Thule’s surface, scientists expect it will discover the chemical composition of its terrain and atmosphere in what NASA says will be the closest monitoring of a human body so distant.

“We are straining the capacities of the spacecraft, and by tomorrow we will know how we did,” Stern told reporters on Monday.

While the assignment marks the close experience of an object inside our solar system, NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2, a set of deep-space probes found in 1977, have reached greater distances on a mission to questionnaire extrasolar bodies. Both probes are still functional.