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New Horizons Flyby of "Ultima Thule"

Posted 2 years ago
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Later today, the New Horizons probe will flyby the tiny and obscure Kuiper Belt object known, unofficially, as "Ultima Thule". This object is officially known as 486958 (2014 MU69). This is a followup to the flyby of Pluto in 2015. Almost nothing is known about "Ultima Thule" except that its tiny and is likely 2 closely orbiting bodies, or has 2 lobes, based on occultations of starlight observed from Earth. Its extremely dark and has a slight reddish tinge. It will be exciting to see the images that trickle in over the next few weeks and months of this pristine object, a relic from the early solar system. For now we can only see the path New Horizons has taken on its way there.

data = EntityValue[{Entity["Planet", "Earth"], 
    Entity["Planet", "Mars"], Entity["Planet", "Jupiter"], 
    Entity["Planet", "Saturn"], Entity["Planet", "Uranus"], 
    Entity["Planet", "Neptune"], Entity["MinorPlanet", "Pluto"], 
     "MinorPlanetProvisional2014MU69"]}, {"OrbitPath", 
    "HelioCoordinates", "Name"}];

probe = EntityValue[
   Entity["DeepSpaceProbe", "NEWHorizons"], {"OrbitPath", 
    "HelioCoordinates", "Name"}];

Graphics3D[{{White, #[[1]], 
     Point[QuantityMagnitude[#[[2]], "AstronomicalUnit"]], 
      QuantityMagnitude[#[[2]], "AstronomicalUnit"], {-1.5, 0}]} & /@ 
   data, {Red, #[[1]], 
     Point[QuantityMagnitude[#[[2]], "AstronomicalUnit"]], 
      QuantityMagnitude[#[[2]], "AstronomicalUnit"], {1.5, 0}]} &@
   probe, Hue[.14], 
  Lighting -> {{"Ambient", GrayLevel[.3]}, {"Directional", White, 
     ImageScaled[{0, 0, 1}]}}, Sphere[{0, 0, 0}, .1]}, Boxed -> False,
  Background -> Black, ViewPoint -> {1.48, 2.74, 1.33}, 
 ViewVertical -> {0.04, 0.05, 1.0}, SphericalRegion -> True, 
 ViewAngle -> Pi/30, ViewCenter -> {.7, .5, .9}, 
 ImageSize -> {640, 480}]

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