NASA shares first close-up images of distant Ultima Thule

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,795   +124
Staff member

NASA during a press conference on Wednesday shared the clearest images yet of Ultima Thule, the furthest object ever explored by a spacecraft.

Before today, it wasn’t known if Ultima Thule was a single object or two objects orbiting one another. Based on the preliminary data, scientists now believe Ultima Thule is a contact binary – two pieces of space rock that slowly came together over time.

It kind of resembles the bottom and middle structures of a traditional snowman as one section is about twice the size of the other.

The newly released images were captured on January 1 as the New Horizons probe flew within 2,200 miles of Ultima Thule’s surface at about 32,000 miles per hour. At around 4.1 billion miles from Earth, it takes roughly six hours for radio signals from the probe to reach Earth.

This are only the first images from the probe, captured at a resolution of about 140 meters per pixel. NASA said during today’s press conference that better lighting and closer proximity to the target will result in much improved images. At its closest, the probe will capture images with a resolution of around 35 meters per pixel.

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toooooot

Posts: 1,360   +653
In the future, our spaceships will have enough power to transport objects like this to earth for our investigation and amusement.
 

JaredTheDragon

Posts: 684   +441
In the future, our spaceships will have enough power to transport objects like this to earth for our investigation and amusement.
Hey sweet sci-fi plot my dude, but no. This (fake) object is still so large that all the rocketry in human history would barely make it budge. We wouldn't even be able to change its orbit significantly, much less slow it down enough to approach the Earth's orbit.