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

Reuben Foster's latest domestic violence charge dropped
Ennis went on ABC's "Good Morning America" program in early December to detail the alleged abuse against her. Ennis told a judge that she concocted the entire story and Foster's domestic violence charges were dropped.

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 .

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.

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.

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.

Donald Trump Unleashes 'Game of Thrones' Meme to Build the Wall
President Trump picked the worst possible show to rip off as he drums up support for a border wall. I haven't seen it. "I don't know", Conway replied when asked by reporters what was going on.

Unsafe powder from lost cargo found on Dutch island
The MSC Zoe , one of the world's largest container vessels, is owned by Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Company. Hundreds of containers have washed up on the Dutch coast after a ship lost part of its cargo in heavy seas.

Afghan Troops Killed as Taliban Storms Cities
A security official, who spoke to AFP on the condition of anonymity, put the death toll slightly lower at between 15 and 20 members of local forces.

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.).

Trump Trolls Elizabeth Warren With Mock 2020 Campaign Poster
Elizabeth Warren pledged her salary to HIAS, the Jewish immigration advocacy group, as long as the government is shut down. Iowa's caucuses will not be held for another 13 months in February of 2020.

© 2015 ExpressNewsline. All Rights reserved.