The partial government shutdown that shuttered NASA continues with no end in sight. The U.S. space program sits idle, the vast majority of its workforce sent home. Space science and exploration projects are disrupted. Paychecks are absent. And an unsettling realization has dawned on hundreds of thousands of public employees and contractors affected by the shutdown: this time is different.
Slava Linkin, one of the leading planetary scientists in the Soviet Union and later Russia, passed away on 16 January 2019. Viachelslav Mikhailovich Linkin was an enormously important participant in Planetary Society history.
New Horizons is back in action after going quiet for a period of solar conjunction following the 1 January flyby of 2014 MU69 (informally nicknamed "Ultima Thule"). The spacecraft is returning new data, as exemplified by these images.
Engineers have leveled the seismometer and made progress on adjusting the position of the tether so that it doesn't interfere for the experiment. Most significantly for the mission, they have balanced the Very Broad Band sensors -- 3 of SEIS’ 6 seismic sensors -- and confirmed that they are generating good data.
New Horizons has "phoned home" as expected, 4 hours after its closest approach to 2014 MU69. Its brief transmission contained no science data, but gave the scientists welcome news: New Horizons has successfully pulled off the most distant flyby ever.