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Watch live as NASA’s New Horizons probe visits Ultima Thule




ultima thule new horizons 2014 mu69 kuiper belt nasa jhuapl swri steve gribbenAn illustration of NASA’s New Horizons probe visiting 2014 MU69, a Kuiper Belt object that exists about 1 billion miles beyond Pluto.NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Steve Gribben

  • NASA’s New Horizons probe is about to explore a mysterious object 1 billion miles beyond Pluto.
  • The object is known as Ultima Thule, or 2014 MU69, and the flyby will occur at 12:33 a.m. EST on Tuesday (New Year’s Day).
  • Ultima Thule will be the most distant object humanity has ever visited.
  • NASA TV and Johns Hopkins University will host live video feeds about the encounter starting on Monday (New Year’s Eve).

NASA is about to fly a nuclear-powered probe past the most distant object humanity has ever dared explore. And you can watch from the comfort of home.

Called Ultima Thule (pronounced “tool-ee”), or 2014 MU69, the object is a total mystery to scientists. Researchers aren’t even sure what the space rock looks like, since it’s 1 billion miles beyond Pluto. At about the size of a mountain — about 20 miles across — Ultima Thule is much too small and too far for telescopes to see clearly.

“If we knew what to expect, we wouldn’t be going to Ultima Thule. It’s an object we’ve never encountered before,” Alan Stern, the leader of the New Horizons mission, previously told Business Insider. “This is what what exploration is about.”

new horizons ultima thule image jhuaplHundreds of images taken between August and December show the reflection of Ultima Thule, or 2014 MU69 (center), and the New Horizons spacecraft’s planned flyby location on January 1, 2019 (marked by an “X”).NASA/JHUAPL/SwRIUltima Thule is thought to be a pristine remnant of the solar system’s formation. This means photographing and studying it up-close with New Horizons could help explain how planets are built and evolve.

In what Stern calls a “mind-boggling” maneuver, New Horizons will get its closest to Ultima Thule — a distance within 2,200 miles — at 12:33 a.m. EST on Tuesday (New Year’s Day). The probe will be moving at a speed of about 32,200 mph. 

Along the way, the spacecraft — which flew past Pluto in July 2015 — will take hundreds of photographs and measurements in a highly coordinated sequence.

The first images should arrive late on Tuesday and be published on Wednesday. You’ll be able to see those initial images via live video broadcasts.

But due to the limitations of the 13-year spacecraft (the probe launched in 2006) and 4 billion miles of distance, it could take up to two years for New Horizons to beam all of the flyby data back to Earth.

How to watch live video coverage of the Ultima Thule flyby

New Horizons control roomNew Horizons scientists react to seeing the sharpest of images of Pluto for the first time in 2015.AP

Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, which manages the New Horizons mission for NASA, will host a series of live video broadcasts about the encounter.

The segments will be streamed via JHUAPL’s YouTube channel from Monday (New Year’s Eve) through Thursday, January 3. NASA Live and NASA TV will also broadcast the segments, despite the government shutdown led by President Donald Trump over border wall funding (which has sent many NASA workers home).

“NASA will continue to stun the world with its achievements!” Jim Bridenstine, the administrator of NASA, tweeted on Thursday while announcing NASA TV would stay on the air.

The first Ultima Thule broadcast will be a press conference with Stern and other mission scientists on Monday at 2 p.m. EST.

At 12:02 a.m. on Tuesday, Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brain May will release a song dedicated to the mission. Video coverage will continue through 12:33 a.m. EST — the moment New Horizons flies past Ultima Thule.

Michael Buckley, a JHUAPL spokesperson, said there will be a video feed of the moment scientists learn that the mission succeeded. He said live coverage should begin on Tuesday around 9:30 a.m. EST, and the “ok” signal from New Horizons should arrive around 10 a.m. EST. A press conference will follow at 11:30 a.m. EST.

On Wednesday at 2 p.m. EST and Thursday at 2 p.m. EST, there will be follow-up press conferences to discuss the first close-up photos and scientific results from the historic flyby.

You can watch the main New Horizons events via the NASA Live video player embedded below.

If you wish to see all of JHUAPL’s coverage, watch the embedded player below or tune into the lab’s YouTube channel.



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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton




OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

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The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training




Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test




While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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