On Jan.1, New Horizons made history with the first flyby New Horizons Mission Reveals Entirely New Kind of World. Now, NASA scientists have revealed the first detailed images of the Ultima Thule captured by the spacecraft.
Its surprising appearance, not at all like anything we’ve seen previously, lights up the procedures that built the planets four and a half billion years ago.
The images captured from the distance as close as 17,000 miles (27,000 kilometers)-reveal that the Ultima Thule is formed with two connected spheres. These spheres likely joined as early as 99 percent of the way back to the formation of the solar system, colliding no faster than two cars in a fender-bender.
Moreover, its world measures 19 miles (31 kilometers) in length. The larger sphere is known as Ultima whereas the smaller sphere is known as Thule.
New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado said, “This flyby is a historic achievement. Never before has any spacecraft team tracked down such a small body at such high speed so far away in the abyss of space. New Horizons has set a new bar for state-of-the-art spacecraft navigation.”
Helene Winters, New Horizons Project Manager said, “In the coming months, New Horizons will transmit dozens of data sets to Earth, and we’ll write new chapters in the story of Ultima Thule — and the solar system.”