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NASA New Horizons Ultima Thule Flybly

New Horizon NASA will boldly go where no spacecraft has gone before.

On New Year's Eve, the New Horizon spacecraft will make the farthest planetary fly ever.

This will fly past the Ultima Thule asteroid, or its official name (486958) 2014 MU69, which is more than six billion kilometers away on the Kuiper Belt.

New Horizons will fly in 3,500 kilometers from the asteroid, driving more than 50,000 kilometers per hour.

NASA made the final correction to approach the spacecraft this week, with even the smallest changes having a big difference.

"The 0.26 meter / second burn only lasted 27 seconds and was executed perfectly by the spacecraft, canceling about 300 kilometers (180 miles) of estimated targeting errors and accelerating our arrival time by about five seconds," NASA said in a statement .

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The final sequence of flying instructions is sent on Christmas Day.

Every other change must be sent to New Horizons before December 30, because it takes 12 hours for messages to be sent to the spacecraft.

"But we can't burn the engine anymore. This is because New Horizons will soon enter Encounter Mode, which doesn't allow the engine to burn," NASA said.

Encounter Mode means that if there is a problem with flyby instructions sent from Earth, onboard software will take over and fix the problem itself, instead of calling back to Earth.

New Horizon flight path. Image: NASA

NASA will take a photo of Ultima, but does not know what it will reveal.

"We hope that Ultima is the most preserved sample of a planetary building block ever explored," NASA said.

"As a result, Ultima must be a valuable window into the early stages of planet formation and what the solar system looks like more than 4.5 billion years ago."

Photos must return to Earth late at night on January 1.

New Horizon has had a star trip – in 2015 it was the first spacecraft to fly past the dwarf planet Pluto.

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