Spacecraft beams back first images of most distant object explored by mankind

Share
Spacecraft beams back first images of most distant object explored by mankind

On December 31st, 2018, NASA and the New Horizon's team (plus millions of people watching the live stream at home) rang in the New Year by watching theNew Horizons mission make the first rendezvous in history with a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO). Included in this will be a series of much higher-resolution images that will provide an even greater look at Ultima Thule, now the farthest object from Earth to ever be photographed by a spacecraft.

New Horizons encountered Ultima 6.5 billion km from Earth.

Additionally, the New Horizons team can now definitely say that-just as the images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope several years ago tentatively predicted-Ultima Thule's hue is a toasty brownish-red.

New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern called the mission "a technical success beyond anything ever attempted before in spaceflight".

The US space agency's craft, the New Horizons, has been busy investigating it which is no small feat as it's pretty dark that far away from the sun. NASA said the joining of the two objects illuminates the processes that built the planets billions of years ago.

Around 10 hours after reaching the icy world of Ultima Thule, in the early part of New Year's Day, the New Horizons vessel got in touch with scientists back home.

The body likely formed as early as 99 percent of the way back to the formation of the solar system. Ultima Thule is an object in the icy Kuiper belt.

Also of interest is the apparent lack of craters, hinting at a surface built through accretion rather than the violent impacts seen in the inner solar system.

Now, however, we have a much clearer image of what Ultima Thule actually looks like, thanks to new scientific data sent from New Horizons. Scientists think that Ultima was formed by two separate entities coming together in a gentle kiss.

Prior to today, images of Ultima Thule were only a handful of pixels across, leaving the object's true physique ambiguous.

The shape indicates that a rotating cloud of innumerable tiny objects must have coalesced into two balls that slowly spiraled closer and closer together until they gently touched, forming the object out beyond Pluto that scientists have nicknamed "Ultima Thule", which means "beyond the known world".

The New Horizons team combined a low-resolution color image of 2014 MU69, or Ultima Thule, with sharper black-and-white imagery to produce the composite view at right.

The narrow "neck" between the two lobes appears to be relatively bright, perhaps suggesting that particular materials might have settled there. "I would say that just because some bad guys once liked that term, we're not going to let them hijack it".

It also comes with a visual that tells the story of the Ultima Thule project.

"So stay tuned", Jeff Moore, the New Horizons geology team lead, said on Wednesday.

Share

Advertisement

Related Posts

Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty for five charged in Khashoggi murder
The Khashoggi affair has also given Turkey - allied with Saudi rivals Qatar and Iran - unusual leverage in regional power plays. The US Central Intelligence Agency has reportedly concluded that Prince Mohammed very likely ordered Khashoggi's murder.

Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, time to recycle thee
Single-family residences may place excess holiday trash/recyclables in bags alongside their containers on collection day. The Christmas tree collection for residents in the City of Newton is scheduled for January 7 - 11.

Quadrantids meteor shower to take place overnight Thursday into Friday
The Quadrantids meteor showers have already been shooting across the skies since December 22, and will continue until January 17. If you miss the meteor shower, you can check out the super blood wolf moon at the end of the month on the 21st.

Kawhi Leonard wishes for different end to Spurs tenure
He'll return to his old arena for the first time since being traded, and his Raptors are now 1.5-point road dogs. This all comes just in time for Kawhi Leonard's return to San Antonio (TNT, 8 p.m.).

Auto egging leads to 14-year-old boy in custody for murder
On New Year's Day, Silvia Zavala climbed into her red Ford F-150 pickup truck to run some errands in the U.S. city of Houston . The driver of that vehicle fled the scene but was later located and is cooperating with investigators, authorities said.

Real Madrid lose Marcos Llorente for three weeks through injury
Madrid introduced Federico Valverde in the 64th minute in place of Modric as they were looking for fresh energy. He would have allowed us to exploit the spaces Villarreal left when they pressed up".

With slump in iPhone sales, are we post 'peak smartphone'?
That led Apple to aggressively market the iPhone XR on its website for $449, about $300 less than its official sticker price. With iPhone's production lines in China, Apple has been caught in between the world's two largest economies.

Major League Baseball free agency rumors: Bryce Harper to meet with Phillies
On one hand, this is pretty noteworthy considering the small amount of movement in either of these derbies. The White Sox have reportedly already had two face-to-face meetings with the Nationals outfielder.

Mills sparks Spurs in NBA win over Celtics
Coach Stevens was unsure as to the extent of the injury, but revealed the player will be put on antibiotics in the coming days. Popovich said Gay, who was injured in Saturday's win over the LA Clippers , would not play Monday against the Boston Celtics .

Frontier Airlines Passengers Become Ill During Flight Due to Water Fountain
Tiffany McKinney, a passenger on the flight told WFLA-TV that people were "just coming out of nowhere" and throwing up. Frontier Airlines and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport were not immediately available for comment.

© 2015 ExpressNewsline. All Rights reserved.