The fine people at NASA, the people who look over space related things, have just received a signal back from the farthest point Humans has gone in space. It could be said NASA has reached New Horizons.
The signal comes back from the New Horizons spacecraft. The small satellite object sent it from Ultima Thule, a small rock floating in space in the Kuiper Belt. All of this comes from around 4 BILLION miles from the planet Earth. That’s Billion with a B. For some sort of reference, that is 1 billion miles from Pluto, the farthest near planet in our solar system.
The signal that the spacecraft sent takes roughly two years to reach home base here is Earth, so the signal sent back to the spacecraft will take a little while to return to New Horizons. The New Horizons spacecraft previously provided close up images of Pluto when it passed by nearly 3 1/2 years ago.
Adding an interesting twist to this whole thing is one of the people who is part of the project. Longtime Queen guitarist Brian May, who is an astrophysicist, had his work included on the object as he is a contributor. With this signal being received on Earth, he released a song to commemorate this achievement. May’s song, “New Horizons” is the first solo track from May in 20 years. It was globally released from the NASA Control Centre and available to download worldwide.
Can’t say I’ve ever heard of an Astrophysicist release a song to commemorate an achievement in space. And a heck of an achievement it is. Added to that, the song has a recorded message from the late Steven Hawkings congratulating the team behind the New Horizons when the satellite passed by Pluto three years ago. Hawkings passed away in March of last year, But with this recording, he is a part of this achievement even if he is no longer around to enjoy it.
“This project has energized me in a new way”, Brian May said in a statement. “For me, it’s been an exciting challenge to bring two sides of my life together — astronomy and music. It was Alan Stern, the project instigator of this amazing NASA mission, who threw down the glove last May. He asked if I could come up with a theme for Ultima Thule which could be played as the NH probe reached this new destination. I was inspired by the idea that this is the furthest that the hand of man has ever reached. It will be by far the most distant object we have ever seen at close quarters, through the images which the space craft will beam back to earth. To me, it epitomizes the human spirit’s unceasing desire to understand the universe we inhabit.”
Along with this new Song, May’s band Queen also can celebrate that it 1975 song Bohemian Rhapsody is now the most downloaded song of the 20th century as well as the movie Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the highest grossing biopics of all time with it’s current earning over $702 million.
As for what else lies for the New Horizons craft. It is said that it will continue to send data and images back to Earth. It is currently moving at 14 KM a second or a little over 31,317 miles an hour. We will all have to see what else in encounters and hopefully gets the pictures of to send back to Earth.
All in all, it is a new benchmark for how far the human race can go in the4 search of the world around us.