A NASA spaceship is zooming toward the farthest, and quite possibly the oldest, cosmic body ever photographed by humankind, a tiny, distant world called Ultima Thule about four billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) away.
The US space agency will ring in the New Year with a live online broadcast to mark the historic flyby of the mysterious object in a dark and frigid region of space known as the Kuiper Belt at 12:33 am January 1 (0533 GMT Tuesday).
A guitar anthem recorded by legendary Queen guitarist Brian May — who also holds an advanced degree in astrophysics — will be released just after midnight to accompany a video simulation of the flyby, as NASA commentators describe the close pass on www.nasa.gov/nasalive.
Real-time video of the actual flyby is impossible, since it takes more than six hours for a signal sent from Earth to reach the spaceship, named New Horizons, and another six hours for the response to arrive.
But if all goes…