New Horizons space probe ‘phones home’ from four billion miles away
A NASA probe has contacted Earth from a space rock four billion miles away.
Staff at mission control cheered as New Horizons reported its first successful flyby of Ultima Thule, the most distant object in our solar system ever explored.
Signals from the probe, launched 13 years ago, around 2,000 miles from Ultima’s icy surface took about six hours to reach Earth.
Queen star Brian May, a doctor of astrophysics, joined the team at Johns Hopkins University, Maryland. He wrote a song for the event.
The radio message, picked up by an antenna in Madrid, gave only details of the spacecraft’s status.
But gigabytes of photos will be sent home in the coming months.
Project scientist Hal Weaver said: “The highest resolution images taken at closest approach required perfect pointing, almost.
“We think, based on everything we’ve seen so far, that was achieved.”
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