Jan. 1 2019. May we start this year with amazement? In the summer of 2015 we were treated to the amazing experience of New Horizons flyby of Pluto, a distance of 3 billion miles over 9 1/2 years, and hitting their target within 43 seconds of plan. The photos and data that came back completely wrote the book on Pluto and opened the chapter on the mysterious Kuiper Belt, out far beyond Pluto.
In the weeks that followed, they turned that minivan-sized deep space probe traveling some 30,000 mph towards a tiny frozen rock on the very outer rim of our own solar system. That high-speed flyby of Ultima Thule was scheduled on, you guessed it, New Year's Day 2019. Today.
While it takes nearly 10 hours for a tiny stream of data (1 kb/sec, or about 2% of a dial-up modem!) to arrive here from the absolute zero and near absolute dark of the Kuiper Belt, the data is streaming in right now and with luck it will be for the next 20 months. But, you can enjoy a gift from the New Horizons team right now.
Queen guitarist Brian May has always been a creative and sensational musician. He's also an astrophysicist and has been a university chancellor. He's an honorary part of the New Horizons team, for his work on stereoscopic imaging. But he's also put his musical genius to work to share this tribute to an amazing little spacecraft, and the achievements of a whole lot of really smart people who brought this vision to reality and sent it to the very edge of our solar system.
So in your amazement at their accomplishments, and the new wonders and knowledge we hope to gain of the origins of our solar system billions of years ago, here's Brian May's musical tribute to New Horizons. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and I for one will remember that 2019 started for me with amazement.