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    While millions of people will be celebrating 2019's arrival tonight, NASA scientists will be geeking out watching their New Horizons spacecraft make a deep space flyby of an object that's considered a time capsule of the solar system.  MU69 or Ultima Thule is an object floating more than 4 billion miles away at the very edge of our solar system in what's known as the Kuiper Belt.  Scientists say the Belt is a mysterious, elongated area of icy objects and worlds discovered by the Hubble Telescope in 2014.  Astronomers believe it's part of the original disc from which the sun and planets formed. The New Horizons spacecraft was used in 2015 to capture images of the dwarf planet Pluto, and its moons.  Now, they want to go even further into space to look at the surface of this pristine, ancient object.  At 12:33 a.m. New Year's Day, it will fly by Ultima Thule in hopes to get up-close images of the most primitive, far-reaching world ever observed by a spacecraft.  Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute says, this is an exciting moment as the spacecraft heads beyond the limits of the known worlds to investigate this solar time capsule. He says, "The Ultima Thule flyby is going to be fast, it's going to be challenging, and it's going to yield new knowledge.  Being the most distant exploration of anything in history, it's also going to be historic." 
    With all of this drama playing out 4 billion miles away, it will take 10 hours before NASA crews in Laurel, Maryland know if the spacecraft survived this epic journey. Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division says, "New Horizons is on the hunt to understand these objects, and we invite everyone to ring in the new year with the excitement of exploring the unknown." You can watch the historic flyby live online.  Happy New Year!

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