The government has been shut down for nearly a week putting hundreds of thousands of government workers on furlough.
The key players in the shutdown are President Trump and Congress. While Trump wants funding for his border wall, Congress cannot seem to come to a consensus.
While Capitol Hill and Congress are just 1.5 miles from the White House, the affect of the shutdown is far more reaching than that small distance. The shutdown in DC could be affecting a space probe that’s four billion miles away.
At least that’s what some online claims are alleging. These claims state the New Horizons mission to fly by an object in the Kuiper Belt could be in jeopardy due to the shutdown.
Is a NASA Space Probe’s mission at risk because of the government shutdown?
No. While NASA is limited during a shutdown, they keep necessary staff to maintain operations including those on the International Space Station and on “operating” missions like the current one set for next week.
If the shutdown continues through the flyby (expected on January 1st, 2019) NASA will be unable to broadcast the event through NASA TV and social media, but their partners have offered to do the job in their place.
WHAT WE FOUND:
After that, NASA aimed the probe at a tiny object now called “Ultima Thule”
NASA said it is the most distant exploration of anything in history.
NASA has the New Horizons mission scheduled to fly by an object in the Kuiper Belt for about 10 AM Eastern on January 1st.
So, how does the skirmish in DC play into this? Since NASA is a government agency, it is included in the shutdown. NASA Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit wrote a letter last week detailing how that would work.
DeWit explained that NASA shut down and furloughed all employees, except those working with the International Space Station and satellites that are in operation. To put that plainly: NASA is included in the shutdown, but they have exceptions for staff who are necessary to maintain the ISS and probes like New Horizons.
Meaning thankfully, the probe will go on to fly-by that far away object on Tuesday.
It is worth noting - the shutdown does prevent NASA from streaming or broadcasting the event. But their partners at the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory say they will air the event if NASA can’t.
More on how to watch that even can be found by clicking here.