NASA is celebrating the new year in the best way it knows how, and that just so happens to be with a live stream. Scientists and engineers will have to hold off on popping their champagne cork just a little longer than usual as they wait for the New Horizons space probe to make history, and you can watch it live.
The New Horizons spacecraft is scheduled to fly by the most distant Solar System object ever visited, a large rock in the Kuiper belt known as Ultima Thule, at right around midnight, eastern time. NASA will be streaming a feed of mission control, complete with commentary and real time animations of where the probe is in relation to the massive space rock.
NASA’s stream will be broadcast via its YouTube channel, which you can watch above. Here’s the full lineup of events, via NASA:
Monday, December 31
- 2 p.m.: New Horizons media briefing and spacecraft final approach before flyby of Ultima Thule
- 3 p.m.: Q&A with the New Horizons Team
- 8 p.m.: Panel Discussion: New Horizons Flyby of Ultima Thule
Tuesday, Jan. 1
- 12:15 a.m.: New Horizons flyby of Ultima Thule, a Kuiper belt object.
- 9:45 a.m.: New Horizons Signal Acquisition from Ultima Thule Flyby (All Channels)
- 11:30 a.m.: New Horizons Post-Flyby Press Conference
NASA will also be holding a number of press conferences on Wednesday and Thursday to reveal information they’ve gathered in the time since the flyby. We’re sure to learn some interesting things about Ultima Thule this week, but the bulk of the data the spacecraft collects won’t be available for researchers to study until later.
New Horizons will begin transferring that data a little later, sending the information back over the course of several months throughout 2019. As scientists dive deep into those numbers we’ll likely know more about what Ultima Thule is like, how it formed, and perhaps what factors contributed to its current status tumbling through our Solar System’s belt of debris.