NASA’s New Horizons explorer successfully “phoned home” on Tuesday after a journey to the most distant world ever explored by humankind, a frozen rock at the edge of the solar system that scientists hope will uncover secrets to its creation. The nuclear-powered space probe has traveled 6.4 billion km to come within 3,540km of Ultima Thule, an apparently peanut-shaped, 32-km-long space rock in the uncharted heart of the Kuiper Belt. The belt is a ring of icy celestial bodies just outside Neptune’s orbit.
Engineers at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland cheered when the spacecraft’s first signals came through the NASA Deep Space Network at 10:28am EST. “We have a healthy spacecraft,” Mission Operations Manager Alice Bowman declared. The spacecraft will ping back more detailed images and data from Thule in the coming days, NASA said.
Launched in January 2006, New Horizons embarked on its 6.4 billion km journey toward the solar system’s edge to study the dwarf planet Pluto and its five moons. “Last night, overnight, the US spacecraft New Horizons conducted the farthest exploration in the history of humankind, and did so spectacularly,” New Horizons principle investigator Alan Stern told a news conference at the Johns Hopkins facility in Laurel, Maryland.
An image of Thule, sent overnight and barely more detailed than previous images, deepens the mystery of whether Thule is a single rock shaped like an asymmetrical peanut or actually two rocks orbiting each other, “blurred together because of their proximity,” Stern said.
During a 2015 fly-by, the probe found Pluto to be slightly larger than previously thought. In March, it revealed methane-rich dunes on the icy dwarf planet’s surface. Now 1.6 billion km beyond Pluto for its second mission into the Kuiper Belt, New Horizons will study the makeup of Ultima Thule’s atmosphere and terrain in a months-long study to seek clues about the formation of the solar system and its planets. Scientists had not discovered Ultima Thule when the probe was launched, according to NASA, making the mission unique in that respect. In 2014, astronomers found Thule using the Hubble Space Telescope and the following year selected it for New Horizon’s extended mission.
As the probe flies 3,540km above Thule’s surface, scientists hope it will detect the chemical composition of its atmosphere and terrain in what NASA says will be the closest observation of a body so remote. “We are straining the capabilities of this spacecraft, and by tomorrow we’ll know how we did,” Stern told reporters on Monday. “There are no second chances for New Horizons.”
While the mission marks the farthest close encounter of an object within our solar system, NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2, a pair of deep-space probes launched in 1977, have reached greater distances on a mission to survey extrasolar bodies. Both probes are still operational.
1. uncharted adj.
(wei4 ceng2 tan4 suo3 guo4 de5)
2. launch v.
3. dwarf planet phr.
(ai3 xing2 xing1)
4. proximity n.
(jie1 jin4; lin2 jin4)
5. methane n.
6. operational adj.
(yun4 zho4 zhong1)
Three adopted Japanese shibas — eight-year-old male Hero, three-year-old female Wish and the latest addition to the family in 2017, a male named Tiger — are the main protagonists of a Facebook page created by their owner, called Hero&Wish, which has over 5,000 followers. Tiger was originally a stray, although it is unclear what caused him to be homeless. Fortunately, he tramped onto a school campus in southern Taiwan. While classes were underway, the forlorn sound of feeble footsteps reverberated in the corridor outside. A teacher went out to investigate and discovered Tiger, with an astonishing trail of bloody paw prints
A: It’s difficult to know what we will need for a two-week quarantine. So far I’ve ordered bread, vegetables, meat — and a large box of Korean-style spicy instant noodles. B: Um, if we have a fever, we will want to eat plain food, like rice porridge or chicken soup. A: That’s true. I’ll add a bag of rice to the order and we can make some chicken soup, divide it into individual portions and freeze it. A: 很難想得到我們隔離兩個星期會需要些什麼。到目前為止，我訂了麵包、蔬菜、肉類──還有一大盒韓式辣泡麵。 B: 呃，如果我們發燒的話，應該會想吃清淡的食物吧，像是稀飯或是雞湯。 A: 這倒是真的。我再加一袋米到訂單裡面好了，然後我們可以做一些雞湯，把它分裝以後拿去冷凍。 English 英文: Chinese 中文:
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A : I just got off the phone to my boss. She asked me to self-quarantine for 14 days. Well, I guess we’ll be holed up in this apartment for the next two weeks. B : First things first. We had better go to the supermarket and stock up on food. A : But we can’t go outside. B : I know a supermarket that provides home delivery on orders over NT$2,000. Problem solved! A : 我剛剛跟老闆通過電話。她要我居家隔離十四天。唉，我想我們接下來的兩個星期都要躲在這個公寓裡面了。 B : 事情有輕重緩急，我們最好先去超市囤積食物。 A : 但是我們不能出門耶。 B : 我知道一間超市會提供送貨到家的服務，只要購物超過新台幣兩千元以上就行。問題解決了！ English 英文: Chinese 中文: