NASA spacecraft survives risky encounter with faraway dark world

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NASA spacecraft survives risky encounter with faraway dark world

An unmanned NASA spacecraft has sent a signal back to Earth that it has successfully made it through a risky flyby past the most distant planetary object ever studied, the US space agency said on Tuesday.

NASA rang in the New Year with a historic flyby of the farthest, and quite possibly the oldest, cosmic body ever explored by humankind - a tiny, distant world called Ultima Thule - in the hopes of learning more about how planets took shape.

A series of anxiously awaited "phone home" signals arrived after 10:30am (15:30 GMT), indicating that the spacecraft had made it, intact, through the risky, high-speed encounter. 
"We have a healthy spacecraft," said Alice Bowman, missions operations manager for the New Horizons spacecraft, as cheers erupted in the control rooms at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland.

About 10 hours earlier, NASA celebrated the New Year's flyby, at 12:33am (05:33 GMT) when the New Horizons spacecraft aimed its cameras at the space rock 6.4 billion km away in a dark and frigid region of space known as the Kuiper Belt. 
Images and data will start arriving later Tuesday, offering scientists the first up-close look at an ancient building block of planets, Bowman said.

Courtesy : Aljazeera