On Jan. 1, 2019 at 12:33 a.m., the New Horizons spacecraft made history by conducting the farthest ever flyby of an object in our solar system. Watch as NASA’s New Horizons team anxiously awaits receiving data from the spacecraft, data that will tell them whether the Ultima Thule flyby was a success.
New Horizons Makes Historic Flyby on New Year's Day
Published: January 2, 2019
Onscreen: This spacecraft just made history reaching the farthest object ever explored by humans. At least, these scientists hope so. They have been planning this moment for 13 years.
Alice Bowman: I am feeling a little bit nervous and excited.
Anne Verbiscer: Are we going to get it? Are we not going to get it?
New Horizons Operation Team Member: New Horizons MOM, this is Nav. No status yet. We expect that probably in the next 30 minutes.
Bowman: 30 minutes? Was that what you said? That’s an estimate. Yes, 30 minutes.
Onscreen: Their target is a 20-mile long icy object far beyond Pluto…Ultima Thule.
Bowman: Because this object is so very very small, it's possible that if we're a little bit off we could just miss seeing the object and we certainly don't want to do that.
Onscreen: Traveling at a rate of over 30,000 mph, even the smallest collision could kill the mission.
Mark Showalter: An object the size of a pea or even smaller would be capable of literally taking out the spacecraft.
Onscreen: NASA spacecraft New Horizons was scheduled to fly by its target at 12:33 a.m. Now, the mission team waits.
John Spencer: Oh, I mean it's been so tantalizing this whole time.
Bowman: We have a healthy spacecraft. We’ve just accomplished the most distant flyby. We are ready for Ultima Thule science transmission at 200 UTC today, science to help us understand the origins of our solar system.
Pluto and Beyond
Written, Produced, and Directed by: Terri Randall
Edited by: Jedd Ehrmann
Digital Producers: Emily Zendt and Ana Aceves
© WGBH Educational Foundation 2018