NASA shares New Horizons’ recording of JR1: Report – NH Voice

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NASA shares New Horizons’ recording of JR1: Report

NASA on Thursday unveiled about New Horizons’ recording of 1994 JR1, a 90-mile Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) currently orbiting three billion miles from the sun. It is the first object that New Horizons has passed since its historic Pluto flyby past July.

New Horizons was able to capture JR1 using its on-board Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) from a distance of 69 million miles away. The LORRI has captured the KBO twice, on April 7 and 8. NASA Horizons will send back data from its encounter with Pluto through this year while it continues its fly by the KBO 2014 MU69 in January 2019.

New Horizons is also providing researchers an insight into 1994 JRI and other KBOs. By clubbing the November 2015 and April 2016 observations, scientists were able to locate the position of JR1 to within 1,000 kilometers, far better than any other small Kuiper Belt objects.

The current assessment has helped dispel a previous theory that JRI is a Plutonium quasi-satellite and learn more about its rotation period. The researchers have assessed light curve information taken from JRI.

They have measured the changing intensity of light reflected off of the KBOs. Using all the information, the scientists were able to find out that a day on JRI is 5.4 hours long. John Spencer, a team member said of JR1’s day that it is relatively fast for a KBO.

Observations of objects like JRI are good preparation for the New Horizons team ahead of potential flybys of other KBOs. By looking at KBOs, scientists get a new perspective on the earlier elusive bodies, which generally have not been disturbed in space since their formation. In April, New Horizons team proposed to NASA that if it permits so then it would extend the probe’s mission through 2021.

According to a story published on the topic by ABC News, “The piano-size probe is currently speeding through the Kuiper Belt, a vast area at the edge of the solar system encompassing Pluto and thousands of smaller icy objects. Since traveling beyond Pluto’s orbit, New Horizons has been able to conduct its first science mission: getting a look at 1994 JR1, a 90-mile-wide world in the Kuiper Belt.”

Launched in January 2006 on a 3-billion-mile journey to Pluto, New Horizons phoned home after its Pluto flyby, indicating that it had successfully navigated just 7,700 miles from the dwarf planet. It later sent back the first high-resolution images of Pluto’s surface. New Horizons conserved energy by taking “naps” during the monumental trip. The spacecraft, equipped with a power system that converts radiation from decaying plutonium into electricity, loses about a few watts each year but may have enough power for two more decades of exploration, according to NASA.

“New Horizons will jet past MU69 at 45,931 feet per second. It will use its imaging instruments, RALPH and LORRI, and UV imaging spectrometer, Alice, to collect data about MU69’s surface, brightness and size. This new data will help scientists complete the puzzle of the Kuiper Belt, which consists of the last unknown objects in the solar system. It will take a one-way signal from New Horizons over six hours to reach the Earth. Scientists describe MU69 as a “cold, classical object” as are many of the unknown icy objects that inhabit the Kuiper Belt (also called the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt). This belt located from 4.5 to 7.4 billion kilometers away from the sun consists primarily of small bodies that are remnants from the solar system’s formation,” according to a recent ChinaTopix report.

Ground observations suggest MU69 size ranges from 20 to 30 miles across. This KBO might even have an orbiting moon. The presence of a moon is a possibility since 30 percent of big cold classical objects are known to have moons. “There’s a pretty good chance that this thing’s got at least one satellite. It could be a small one. It could be a big one, could be several. We really don’t know,” said Porter. Scientists expect NASA to approve the mission extension (and the extra funding) so instruments aboard New Horizons can be turned on during the flyby. Without the extension approval from NASA, New Horizons will be shut down this year.

A report published in Science World Report informed, “NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has reportedly discovered a mysterious celestial rock beyond Pluto in the Kuiper Belt. The space probe released an image of the distant space object under the name 1994 JR1. The 145-kilometer-wide space rock orbits more than 5 billion kilometers from the sun in the Kuiper Belt.” The mysterious celestial body was first detected by New Horizons at a distance of 280 million kilometers away from it. Later on, the spacecraft was able to get a closer look at it on April 7 and 8, as well as capture images through its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager from a distance of 111 million kilometers.

SWRI’s science team member, John Spencer, feel that a new phase of discovering more ancient celestial bodies in the Kuiper Belt region has opened following the New Horizon’s observations. Furthermore, the spacecraft is expected to take even closer images of these objects with its proposed extended mission by NASA. “This is all part of the excitement of exploring new places and seeing things never seen before,” John Spencer said. An extended mission will also mean that New Horizons will have a super close flyby of another object in the Kuiper Belt area around Jan. 1, 2019, namely the 2014 MU69, resulting in more outer space discoveries. Last year, New Horizons flew through the Pluto system and made the first close-up observations of the icy planet and its five moons.

NASA shares New Horizons’ recording of JR1: Report – NH Voice