NASA Probe Sends Back Signal From Ultima Thule

Ultima Thule

Ultima Thule

In total, the object measures around 20 miles in length, while the two spheres are 12 and 9 miles across respectively. Initial data analysis has also uncovered no evidence of rings or satellites larger than 1 mile in diameter orbiting Ultima Thule.

Jeff Moore, New Horizon's geological and geophysics lead, said Ultima Thule is "perhaps the most primitive object that has yet been seen by any space craft".

The New Horizons science team created the first stereo image pair of Ultima Thule.

NASA has released the first clear, close-up photos of an object at the edge of our Solar System. We are seeing a physical representation of the beginning of planetary formation, frozen in time.

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NASA's New Horizons spacecraft whizzed by Ultima Thule in the early morning of January 1, at speeds of almost 14 km a second, as several instruments and cameras gathered information. "New Horizons has set a new bar for state-of-the-art spacecraft navigation".

"The first exploration of a small Kuiper Belt object and the most distant exploration of any world in history is now history, but nearly all of the data analysis lies in the future", said Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, in the statement. The first image of Ultima Thule sent from the spacecraft may have resembled more of a pixelated blob, but it gave us an unprecedented look at the small space object 4 billion miles away from the sun.

This image taken by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager is the most detailed of Ultima Thule returned so far by the New Horizons spacecraft. Likely the result of a gentle collision shortly after the birth of the Solar System, Ultima Thule is revealed to be a contact binary, two connected sphere-like shapes held in contact by mutual gravity'.

The latest images, from the probe's LORRI telescope, were taken on approach to 2014 MU69, 18,000 miles away, 30 minutes before the spacecraft flew by less than 2,200 miles from the object.

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