Why NASA chose Senegal to observe a frozen world beyond Pluto

Salma Sylla Mbaye, is the first Ph.D. student in Astronomy in Senegal. She is in her second year at Cheikh Anta Diop university in Dakar. Mbaye was part of two dozen Senegalese astronomers and scientists that accompanied NASA's New Horizons team to observe the flyby of an ancient object called the Ultima Thule (beyond the known world) orbiting just beyond Pluto. The views expressed in this commentary are solely hers.

Dakar, Senegal (CNN)On a night in August, an object called 2014 MU69 passed in front of a star and blocked its light. This phenomenon, called a stellar occultation, lasted just a second and was visible only in certain regions in Africa (more exactly in Senegal, Mali and Algeria) and in South America in Colombia.

MU69 is an icy object of the Kuiper Belt, (informally named Ultima Thule) which was discovered in June 2014 with the Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA is pursuing this object to learn more about the origins of our solar system.
Senegal was chosen to observe this occultation, because of its political stability, and the existence of a community of amateur astronomers and scientists.