Within the early hours of New Yr’s Day, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft hurtled previous Ultima Thule, probably the most distant house rock we’ve ever visited.
Ultima Thule is positioned within the Kuiper belt, some 6.6 billion kilometres from Earth. Although low in decision, the photographs despatched again by the probe counsel that it’s formed like a bowling pin with two unequally sized bulbous ends.
The thing is round 32 kilometres lengthy and at most 16 kilometres extensive. It seems to be spinning like a propeller, with its axis pointing in the direction of New Horizons. Nevertheless, we are able to’t but rule out the likelihood that it’s truly two objects orbiting one another.
New Horizons started its lengthy journey in 2006, reaching its main vacation spot, Pluto, in 2015 earlier than altering course for Ultima Thule. It would ship again extra photos from the rock within the coming months, together with knowledge on its floor composition and temperature.
The Kuiper belt is made up of remnants from when the photo voltaic system shaped, so this info could educate us one thing concerning the origin of planets together with Earth. New Horizons will proceed to discover the Kuiper belt till at the least 2021.
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