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Guests: John Batchelor, Dr. Alan Stern, Dr. David Livingston. Topics: New Horizons, Pluto, Ultima Thule flyby, the Kuiper Belt and much more.
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John Batchelor and I welcomed back Dr. Alan Stern for New Horizons and Pluto updates plus details on the New Year's eve Ultima Thule fly of this Kuiper Belt object. During our 19 minute two segment discussion, Dr. Stern told us how Ultima Thule was discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope, he explained why Pluto was being referred to as the science fiction planet, and more. Alan had much to say regarding the seven instruments onboard New Horizons and what each will do with regards to the studying and flyby of Ultima Thule. Other topics discussed included the transmission round trip time of 12 hours to and back from the spacecraft which is coming up on 4 billion miles from Earth. When asked about the risks flying to Ultima Thule, he said the Kuiper Belt was so huge there was very little risk or chance of hitting an object. As you will hear, there is lots of excitement about the flyback and very little is known or assumed about this Kuiper Belt object. Before we ended, Alan also talked about the potential under the ground ocean that may exist on Pluto. He then called for a Pluto orbiter.
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