NASA's New Horizons probe has been flying through space since early 2006, and is currently making the most interesting flyby. After passing through the Jupiter and Pluto in the 12 years since its launch, Jupiter is about to face a very close encounter with a mysterious object in the outer solar system, called Ultima Thule. As luck would have it, it will reach its goal on New Year's Day, and that's a pretty big deal for NASA.
As we approach the arrival of the probe at Ultima Thule, NASA announces its schedule for the probe known to fly through. The big show starts on Monday afternoon, December 31, and begins three days of news and briefings that will give us the best view of an extremely distant solar system object.
Here's the schedule of events NASA has planned the following:
As you can see, anyone who stays on the ball to get off the New Year on the East Coast just has to wait a while to catch live coverage of the approach of New Horizons to Ultima Thule. NASA will provide flyby simulations in real time, but since a live feed from the probe is not possible, we'll have to wait a bit to see the actual images captured by the probe.
Later at New Years Day NASA transmits New Horizons' signal acquisition, confirming that it has collated the data to which it has been directed, and building a serious hype for the eventual discovery of the first images of the distant object , At 11:30 EST, NASA is holding a press conference to show what images and information the spacecraft has sent back, but that's really just the tip of the iceberg for scientists.
In the coming months, New Horizons will provide a wealth of data that is not available on the first day. NASA will announce a "data download schedule" that will give us all a better sense of when to expect more news on Ultima Thule.