Skip to comments.Meet Ultima AND Thule: First high-resolution images of most distant object ever visited
Posted on 01/02/2019 1:24:00 PM PST by Simon Green
Humanity has captured its first clear look at an object in the faraway Kuiper Belt.
NASA revealed the first images and science data from this week's historic flyby in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Far from the blurry 'bowling pin' we saw with New Horizons' first look when it beamed its signal home early morning on January 1, the new images reveal Ultima Thule is snowman-shaped red world with two distinct lobes - one stacked atop the other.
This arrangement is what's known as a contact binary, the experts say and, its now the first a spacecraft has ever explored.
Photographing Ultima Thule and traveling more than four billion miles through space to get there is a technical success beyond anything ever attempted before in spaceflight, Principal Investigator Alan Stern said in a press conference Wednesday.
'It's really only the size of Washington D.C., and about as reflective as garden variety dirt,' Stern explained, noting that the object wasn't even known to the world prior to the summer of 2014.
'We were ultimately chasing it down in the dark at 32,000 miles per hour.'
The best images of the new batch were captured when New Horizons was about 17,000 miles (27, 000 kilometers) from Ultima Thule.
And, the pictures will only get better from here.
The scientists say the two lobes of Ultima Thule came together in a 'gentle' accretion process, with two objects bound together by each other's gravity.
The primitive world was 'born' this way, and did not evolve or deform through external processes to take on the strange shape, the team explains.
'New Horizons is like a time machine, taking us back to the birth of the solar system,'said Jeff Moore, New Horizons Geology and Geophysics team lead.
(Excerpt) Read more at dailymail.co.uk ...
frosty the thule man
For extra credit, calculate the diameter of the mirror needed on an Earth-based telescope in order to generate that level of resolution.
Aww man thats so thule - Mike Tyson.
Can we cheat and use an array?
And just as useless.
Perhaps we have found the home planet of Her Thighness?
21 miles? Not quite long enough to host a marathon.
But they come in threes. Where’s the third one? It’s a trap!
Calvin’s dad is going to be pissed.
Hobbes thinks it needs a tail.
Current inhabitants, including members of the Flat Ultima Thule Society, typically argue about whether Ultima Thule is flat or peanut-shaped.
Looks like a giant dog poop.
OK, the virtual diameter.
By the way, I hear they're doing that for real at the Keck telescope, but only with IR. For now, anyway.
I thought the government shutdown was going to keep the images from being received.
The staypuff marshmallow man
I see it, I see it, its Senior Wences’s Hand on the lower portion!
——came together in a ‘gentle’ accretion process——
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