An artist's illustration from NASA on December 21, 2018, depicts the scene of the "New Vision" flying over the "Avatar". Figure / Vision China
According to NASA's official website, on January 1st, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) "New Vision" detector will fly over the Kuiper belt asteroid 2014MU69, which will be the farthest object in the history of spacecraft exploration. Scientists know very little about this asteroid called “The End of the World”, when the “New Vision” will fly close to the object and unveil its mystery.
Why choose “End of the World”?
According to the American Science and Technology magazine Wired, as early as 2014, astronomers successfully discovered some new Kuiper Belt objects using the Hubble Space Telescope, including 2014MU69 (numbered by the Asteroid Center after obtaining enough orbital data) ), and listed this asteroid as the next target after the "New Vision" flag flies past Pluto. “The end of the world” is derived from a global solicitation. The task team selected the word among 34,000 candidate names because 2014MU69 is too bleak for ground telescopes, and scientists cannot observe the specific situation. “The end of the earth” It symbolizes the unknown world.
For NASA how to select the asteroid, the BBC analysis said that scientists want to detect objects farther away than Pluto, and “the end of the earth” is just within the reach of the “new horizon” capability. .
Yang Yuguang, a researcher at the Second Academy of Aerospace Science and Technology and the vice chairman of the Space Transportation Committee of the International Astronautical Federation, said that the reason why the new vision was chosen was to limit the energy of the detector. The main task of the “New Vision” is to detect Pluto. When detecting Pluto, it is flying rather than wrapping, but in fact, it is the most ideal way to enter it. Why can't it be done? It is because of the energy limitation that if the detector is to brake, the energy consumed is too large. When the “New Vision” flies past Pluto, the ability to adjust one's own orbit is extremely weak, so it is only possible to choose a relatively close asteroid within its limited adjustable range, so it is not completely active. Choose “ End of the World & rdquo;, but there is not much room for choice.
“What is the shape of the End of the World?”
“‘End of the World & rsquo; What shape? made out of what? Is there an atmosphere? No one knows. ”“New Vision” Chief Researcher Alan · Stern said. According to NASA, according to the existing detection data, “the end of the earth” is about 6.5 billion kilometers away from the Earth and about 1.6 billion kilometers away from Pluto. It is formed in the frozen area of the Kuiper Belt, and the temperature is extremely low. This environment retains its environment more perfectly. The original state of the beginning. “New Vision” mission team observed through the space telescope “flying shadows of the ends of the earth” that the shape may be two objects that surround each other, or two objects connected together, such as dumbbells. And its diameter is only about 30 kilometers, much smaller than Pluto's.
In the past few months, NASA researchers have continued to shoot through the “New Vision” group, and they found that they could not detect any light curve of this asteroid, that is, whether it is spinning or not. Or move relative to the star. "New Vision", chief researcher Alan · Ster said: "In the case of determining that it is not a sphere, it should be able to detect the light curve when it is rotated, but we did not find that this is really a mystery. . According to The New York Times, astronomer Mark · Dr. Bui of the Southwest Research Institute of the United States analyzed that there are two situations that lead to this situation, one is the route of “New Vision” and “The End of the World”. The rotation axes coincide, and the other case is that “the ends of the earth” may be surrounded by a dust that masks its light curve. He said, “This is the oldest relic in the solar system we have studied”.
“New Vision” What is the target of this detection?
According to NASA, the “New Vision” will fly at 52,000 kilometers per hour on January 1st, and the distance between the detector and the asteroid will be only 3,500 kilometers, which is more than the 2015 flying of Pluto. The distance is more than two-thirds.
The “New Vision” detector is equipped with scientific instruments such as Ralph images and infrared imagers. These devices will be used to capture color and black and white images of celestial bodies, draw structures and topography, search for gas and composition on celestial surfaces, measure temperature, etc. as they fly over the horizon. According to Wired, because the detector is very close to the celestial body, it can take very detailed high-resolution images with twice the resolution of Pluto's image. The image data of “The End of the World” will be the most detailed of all the asteroid photos. However, scientists are still not sure whether “new horizons” can bring back clear photos, because “the ends of the earth” may rotate very fast and the photos may be blurred.
The NASA official website's “New Vision” mission plan shows that when the detector flies, “the end of the earth”, the ground needs to wait about 6 hours to receive its signal. In the next 20 months, the “New Vision” will continue to send back the collected data and photos taken to the ground.
According to The New York Times, the scientist responsible for the "New Vision" mission, Harold · Dr. Weaver said that when the "New Vision" observation, "the end of the earth", it is actually in the observation four The moment when planet formation and the formation of the solar system were formed more than one billion years ago. The data collected by the detectors will help to understand the physical and chemical environment of the early solar system and also help scientists understand other planetary systems outside the solar system.
Why do scientists explore the Kuiper Belt?
"Pluto", which was detected before the new vision, and the "flying edge" will be the asteroids in the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt is at the end of the solar system outside the orbit of Neptune, a large number of stars in this area. Why do scientists explore the Kuiper Belt?
Yang Yuguang explained that in the Kuiper belt, there are more celestial bodies rich in methane, water and water ice, and the overall quality is relatively small. The Kuiper Belt was formed in the early days of the solar system, and it retains many traces of the early solar system. Moreover, the Kuiper belt celestial bodies are basically in the frozen area. The received sunlight is very weak and in a very cold state. Unlike some comets entering the inner orbit of the solar system, the surface material will evaporate when it is closer to the sun. A celestial body like "The End of the Earth" may not be much different from the state when the solar system was formed billions of years ago. It is very useful for understanding the entire solar system.
However, there are fewer tasks to detect distant objects in the Kuiper Belt. Yang Yuguang said that the current deep space exploration is not focused on the detection of farther celestial bodies, because the restrictions are more and the engineering is more difficult. At present, several large detectors are accelerated by the gravitational force of Jupiter, and the period of Jupiter's rotation around the sun is more than 11 years, so subsequent detection needs to wait for the window period. Moreover, the exploration of the outer solar system requires a very large scale of the detector, so it is difficult to implement. The focus of the probe now is on the celestial bodies of Mars and the Moon.
●January 19, 2006
"New Vision" launch, the spacecraft directly into the escape orbit of the Earth and the Sun, is the high-speed aircraft that has left the Earth at the fastest launch speed in history, and is the first space probe to fly over and study Pluto and its satellites. .
●February 28, 2007
"New Vision" flies Jupiter and transmits all information about Jupiter's atmosphere and magnetosphere to the Earth and data about Jupiter's moons. At the same time, the detector is accelerated by Jupiter's gravity, which increases the speed of the spacecraft to 145,000 kilometers per hour and flies to distant Pluto.
●July 15, 2015
"New Vision" is flying over Pluto, which was recently 12,500 kilometers away from Pluto. It was the first space probe to fly over and study Pluto. In the mission, the “New Vision” number sent a large number of photos of Pluto and its dwarf planetary system to the Earth.
●January 1, 2019
“New Vision” No. Sweep “ End of the World & rdquo;. NASA estimates that after the flight, the “New Vision” will take more than a decade to cross the Kuiper Belt and enter the interstellar space. During the period, the “New Vision” team will look for the next target.
Beijing News reporter Chen Yihan