NASA Hosts Science Chat On Upcoming Historic Planetary Encounter

Illustration of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft encountering the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule on Jan. 1, 2019. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

September 18, 2018 – Members of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft team will host a Science Chat at 11 a.m. MDT (1 p.m. EDT) Wednesday, September 19, on humanity’s farthest planetary flyby, scheduled to occur January 1 when the spacecraft encounters a mysterious object in the Kuiper Belt nicknamed “Ultima Thule.”

The September 19 event will be livestreamed from the New Horizons Mission Operations Center at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. It will air on Facebook Live, NASA Television, Ustream, YouTube and the agency’s website.

The conversation will cover a range of topics, including the preparations, plans and goals for exploring Ultima. The encounter will occur approximately 4 billion miles from Earth, complementing the discoveries still coming from the mission’s July 2015 flight through the Pluto system, during which the spacecraft provided the first close-up images of Pluto and its moons, collecting data that has transformed our understanding of our solar system’s outer frontier.For the upcoming flyby,the mission team is planning to come three times closer to Ultima than it did Pluto.

Participants in the Science Chat include:

  • Jim Green, chief scientist, NASA Headquarters, Washington

  • Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder Colorado

  • Alice Bowman, New Horizons mission operations manager, APL

  • The public can ask questions on Twitter using the hashtag #askNASA or by leaving a comment on the stream of the event on the New Horizons Facebook page. Media may submit questions before and during the event by emailing JoAnna Wendel at