Thursday, August 10, 2017

Good science story

I hope those of you out there in reading land, few though you may be, can read this fascinating New York Times story. It describes how dedicated scientists traveled around the world, chasing the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a star occultation by the Kuiper Belt object that the New Horizons satellite will rendesvous with on the first day of 2019.

They had three opportunities, and only one of them worked.  But they learned new things about the object that New Horizons is headed for.

They basically learned this:
"Instead of round like a ball it appears to be more like a long, skinny potato — or maybe two objects in close orbit around each other, possibly even touching."
They also think that there's no debris field around the object, which reduces the chances that New Horizons will crash into a disabling bit of space dust.

So they didn't learn a lot, but they learned enough to make the chase worthwhile.

Chasing Shadows for a Glimpse of a Tiny World Beyond Pluto

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