Jan 1, 2019

Axios PM

Good afternoon. Today's PM is in holiday mode, with a short big thing and a quick recap of the news. Have a relaxing rest of your day.

1 big thing: NASA's mission accomplished

New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern celebrates with school children at the exact moment that the New Horizons spacecraft made the closest approach of Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule. Photo: Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP

Three months after NASA sent the first spacecraft to Pluto, it has successfully flown by an object in the Kuiper Belt, man's next great frontier.

Why it matters: "Thirteen years and more than four billion miles [after launching a voyage to Pluto], New Horizons has provided humanity’s first glimpse of a distant fragment that could be unchanged from the solar system’s earliest days," the N.Y. Times notes.

The big picture: There are thought to be hundreds of thousands of objects like Ultima Thule in the Kuiper Belt.

  • The Kuiper Belt, where Ultima Thule is located, is a region of icy bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune that are thought to be leftovers from the solar system's early days, writes Axios Science editor Andrew Freedman.
  • The spacecraft will attempt to gather data on others to learn more about them, and how Ultima Thule might differ from them.

What's next: Expect to see more images and data from Ultima Thule later Tuesday and over the next 20 months. It takes about six hours for data to be transmitted one way back to Earth at 1,000 bits per second.

Go deeper: Axios' deep dive on space

Bonus: Pics du jour
Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Above: Brave and hardy souls jump into the icy waters of Carnlough Harbor in Carnlough, Northern Ireland. The annual swim raises money and awareness by the Ballymena Spina Bifida Association and has been going strong for over forty years.

Below: A tow truck tries to move the Chinese American Heritage Foundation float during the 130th Rose Parade. The parade was briefly interrupted when the float celebrating U.S. railroad heritage broke down and erupted in smoke.

Photo: Michael Owen Baker/AP
2. What you missed
  1. President Trump has invited congressional leaders from both parties to a White House briefing tomorrow about a border wall. Go deeper.
  2. The far-right Jair Bolsonaro was sworn in as Brazil's president today, radically changing the center-left path taken by Latin America's biggest country over the last 15 years. Go deeper.
  3. News from Brazil: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Brasilia that Trump's decision to pull U.S. forces out of Syria "in no way changes anything that this administration is working on alongside Israel." Go deeper.
  4. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he's open to another summit with President Trump this year. Go deeper.
  5. Shutdown hits the Smithsonian: "Tourists hoping to see the Star-Spangled Banner, the Hope Diamond and Harriet Tubman’s shawl will find locked doors at all 17 of the District’s Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo" tomorrow, WashPost reports.
3. 1 "New Year’s miracle"

Photo: Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations, via AP

In subzero weather, Russian emergency workers pulled a year-old baby from the rubble of a collapsed apartment building today, the AP reports.

  • 11-month-old Ivan Fokin had been under rubble for nearly 36 hours.
  • "His father called it 'a New Year’s miracle.'"
  • Fokin was in "extremely serious condition, officials said, with fractures, a head injury and suffering from hypothermia."