On 1st January 2019, at 12:33 am, a robotic emissary of mankind will get past a new world altogether in the outer half of the solar system. The New Horizons spacecraft had a highly successful face-off with Pluto on 14th July 2015. It was granted an extended mission in order to explore a distant object 2014 MU69, officially named as Ultima Thule. It lies at almost a billion miles beyond Pluto, which will be the farthest spacecraft to flyby in the history of mankind. The sun will be a small point of light, more than 43 astronomical units away. Even after this, there is an expectation to receive thrilling images of the reddish, dual-bodied object.
For all the astronomers and space enthusiasts, the flyby would make 1st January 2019 even more special time for celebrating. The radio signals from New Horizons and the new images, which they would bring, will not arrive at the receivers based on Earth, till more than 6 hours later. We will see how Mobile Astronomy can make the most of this unique event. People can use their favourite mobile device to read a sensational book related to the mission. One can even virtually go through the experience by using the free Pluto Safari App. The home page of Pluto Safari App displays a live countdown to the flyby and the actual distance between New Horizons and Ultima Thule. This would help one know the exact second when the flyby would take place. There are two particularly useful features of the app. They are its news feed and the interactive solar system simulator. The latter is made use of in different instructive ways for conveying a proper sense of the event. They can avail different features by tapping on to different icons within the app.
People are obviously waiting for the flyby of Ultima Thule. They can use their mobile sets to catch up on the New Horizons and background of Pluto. One can download an eBook or audiobook version of Chasing New Horizons – Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto, which offers an in-depth account of the mission by Alan Stern and David Grin spoon. Even after knowing the outcome, the authors succeed to build tension at the time of key moments in the long journey from the conception of a mission to the encounter of Pluto.