This article was provided by Simulation Curriculum, the leading provider of space science programming software, and the makers of the SkySafari apps and Pluto Safari for Android and iOS.
On January 1, 2019 at 12:33 pm EST (0533 GMT), a robot envoy of humanity will fly past the outer solar system on an unprecedented world. The New Horizons spacecraft, which had a highly successful encounter with Pluto on July 14, 2015, received an expanded mission to explore a remote Kuiper Belt facility called the 2014 MU69 and unofficially named Ultima Thule.
At one billion miles from Pluto, this is the farthest spaceship in human history. At the time of the next approach, New Horizons will travel at a speed of 32,279 miles per hour (or 51
Astronomy and space enthusiasts will celebrate New Year's Day with a flyby at a special time. But the radio signals from New Horizons and the tantalizing new images they'll bring us will arrive at Earth's receivers only 6 hours later. In this issue of Mobile Astronomy, we'll discuss how to make the most of this historic event. You can use your favorite mobile device to read a fascinating book about the mission, see NASA TV coverage of the event in the NASA app, which starts at midnight on December 31 (when the government shutdown is over, and NASA TV back in action – otherwise) Johns Hopkins & # 39; Applied Physics Laboratory has a live feed), and you can experience the encounter virtually with the free Pluto Safari app from the manufacturers of the SkySafari 6 Astronomy app.
The Pluto Safari App  The Pluto Safari app (free download from Google Play for Android and Apple App Store for iOS) was originally developed to provide a wealth of information in a convenient way to deliver on the meeting of New Horizons with Pluto in 2015. For the Ultima Thule flyby, the app has been updated to include the probe's extended mission timeline, the spacecraft and its target location (now and for all phases of the mission), background information about the spacecraft, and the targets. and break news. In addition, all information about Pluto encounters is still included in the app.
The home page of the Pluto Safari app displays a current flyby countdown and the current distance between New Horizons and Ultima Thule. This will let you know exactly when the flyby will take place. Two particularly useful aspects of the Pluto Safari app are the News Feed and the interactive Solar System Simulator. The latter is used in various ways to convey a true sense of encounter.
Touching the News icon on the Home screen will bring up to date news, data, and discoveries about the mission. Once the New Horizons science team releases stories, the app inserts the content into the top of the news feed. Each article was written for non-experts and contains related images. There is also a commented picture gallery.
The Guide icon on the home page opens a list of articles that cover the key aspects of the mission. Here you will find historical and background information on Pluto and Ultima Thule, as well as mission design, space probe instrumentation and scientific findings of the encounter with Pluto. Each article is accompanied by diagrams and pictures.
Tapping the survey icon on the home screen displays a page where users can read about the International Astronomical Union's decision to downgrade Pluto 2006 to a dwarf planet, then weigh the arguments on both sides and then agree from!
Virtual Mission of the New Horizons Mission
The Solar System Simulator in Pluto Safari is known to users of the SkySafari app series. It is used for the timeline and location features in the app. The Timeline page displays information about each milestone in the New Horizons mission. This allows the user to go through each phase of the mission – starting in 2006 through the Jupiter Gravitation Wizard, various distance milestones, first images of objects, the encounter with Pluto and the Ultima Thule flyby. In any case, the date and time as well as the distance from New Horizons to Earth and to Pluto are given.
A View button launches the simulated 3D view of each Timeline event from the perspective of New Horizons in Space. In this mode, you can squeeze and zoom the display to change the size of the objects, move your finger over the finger to reorient the view, or use the up and down arrows to change the distance to the spacecraft. (The current distance is displayed in the upper-left corner of the screen.)
Most simulations start by default with time. Tapping the clock icon at the bottom of the screen will open a time-out control panel that allows you to fast-forward or rewind the time, continuously or incrementally. Touch one of the two innermost arrows to pause the flow of time. Touch one of the outermost arrows to continue. The time flow rate is controlled by selecting each time or date parameter, such as month or hour. If you're passing the event, revert to the time or just go back to the Timeline page and touch the View icon to restart the event.
For a clear overview of each encounter, the options displayed on the screen vary. For example, the Pluto flyby shows the orbits of Pluto's moons, while the Ultima Thule flyby shows the orbits of all planets and Ultima Thule, as well as the trajectory of the spacecraft through them.
The Location page offers seven ways to view the current mission status of New Horizons. One of them shows the position of the spacecraft and the Ultima Thule in the sky when viewed from your location on Earth. On January 1, 2019, her position is 0.25 degrees northwest of the star Al Baldah (also called 41 Sagittarii). This part of the sky will go down shortly after the evening sun in early January, but the objects are too close to the sun to be watched, and they will be far below the horizon for western hemisphere observers at the time of the flyby. A second view of the sky is reserved for Pluto, which will be even closer to the Sun on January 1, 2019.
The other five simulated views are three-dimensional models of the spacecraft and the solar system. One shows the trajectory of New Horizons, Ultima Thule and its orbit, as well as the orbits of the main planets, all of which are viewed from high above the plane of the solar system. Another view shows the approach of the probe to Ultima Thule from a vantage point near the plane of the solar system inward.
The most interesting option, the Kuiper Belt Objects View, contains the basic elements of the other two views, but adds 9 of the major KBOs discovered so far, including Eris, the object that led to Pluto's downgrade to the dwarf planet. You can also use the Pinch option to create Sedna's enormous orbit. The tilt of the model to bring the orbits of the classical planets into a single plane will show how different the inclinations of these distant worlds are.
The last two simulations focus on Pluto. As before, the option to zoom in and out of the model as well as turnaround time will allow you to virtually experience the flyby. Having your device handy when New Horizons passes Ultima Thule makes you feel like you're coming along.
19659009] While waiting for the Utlima Thule flyby, you can use your mobile device to catch up on the backdrop of New Horizons and Pluto. Download an e-book or Audiobook version of "Chasing New Horizons: Epic's First Mission to Pluto" – an engaging and detailed description of the mission of Alan Stern and David Grinspoon. Despite knowing the result, the authors manage to build up suspense during the decade-long journey from mission conception to meeting Pluto. If you choose the audiobook, you will hear how the authors themselves tell the journey.
Use your device's browser to view NASA TV's live coverage of the Ultima Thule flyby (again, when government shutdown is complete). , Currently, the schedule includes thumbnails and mission briefings starting at 1:00 pm on Friday, December 28th, the first images and science of Ultima Thule on January 1 at 10:00 am and science updates through Thursday, January 3. If NASA Television is not active. Johns Hopkins & # 39; Applied Physics Laboratory will stream live missionary activity to their website and on YouTube.
In any case, I adjust myself. See you on the other side!
In future editions of Mobile Astronomy, we'll be previewing the best astronomical events of 2019, exploring how constellations look three-dimensional, highlighting some winter observation goals, and more. Until then, look on!
Editor's note: Chris Vaughan is Astronomy Specialist in Public Relations and Education at AstroGeo, a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and operator of the historic David Dunlap Observatory Telescope (1.88m). You can email him and follow him on Twitter @astrogeoguy and on Facebook and Tumblr.