How did New Horizons navigate to Ultima Thule over 80 million miles from Pluto given the chaotic effect of gravity (from unpredictable local and distant matter) on New Horizons and the fact that the speed-of-light-restriction would make real-time navigation very difficult? How could the New Horizons path be predicted?

This question addresses the problem of gravitational effects on the behaviour of the New Horizons flight path. It also addresses the problem of the circa.4.5 hour communication lag between earth and New Horizons, which would also be complicated by the unpredictable gravitational effects.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Realtime navigation is impractical for many reasons, and the gravity is negligible on New Horizons from 2014 MU69 from the distance of the flyby. $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Jan 2 '19 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ I think it's more like 800 million miles. More importantly though, the effect of gravity is far from chaotic. The only significant gravitational fields affecting this leg of the journey will be those of Pluto & Charon early on, and the Sun. A tiny correction for Jupiter or Neptune might be needed. These are known with great precision. The hard part is working out exactly where Ultiuma Thule is. $\endgroup$ – Steve Linton Jan 3 '19 at 10:51
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Space! While your question is similar to the other question, I think you are trying to raise some points here that aren't addressed there. I think if you made your question a little more general and asked only about navigation techniques to handle "chaotic effect of gravity (from unpredictable local and distant matter)" this would be a really interesting question and reopened. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 3 '19 at 10:53
  • $\begingroup$ Mark has made a new question instead of editing this one. space.stackexchange.com/questions/33281/… $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Jan 3 '19 at 12:33