By Gage Simpson, Owner Of New Frontier News
Monday, December 31, 2018 (Updated Thursday, January 3, 2019)
(NEW FRONTIER NEWS)- Ultima Thule is Kuiper Belt Object nearly 4 billion miles from the Sun. It is the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft.
(Monday 12/31/18) – New Horizon is expected to flyby Ultima Thule 2,000 miles above its surface at around 12:33 a.m. on New Year’s Day. There has been no moons or rings that have been detected. Any object larger than a rice pellet could destroy the probe, which is traveling at 31,500 mph (50,700 kph).
While a few pixelated and small images of Ultima Thule have been released. It won’t be until Wednesday or Thursday before we get a much better idea of what the object looks like.
Some of the images that have made it to us show a narrow and elongated object. It could be similar in appearance to 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P) with a narrow neck and two lobes or could look similar to Haumea, which has a very oval shape.
Current due to the government shutdown NASA is closed but the New Horizon and Osiris-Rex missions are considered essential and will still be monitored by NASA. NASA, however, will not release a press release, which will be done through Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory public affairs staff until the government shutdown is ended.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine also confirmed that social media for all its robotic missions will still be active.
“Expect to see the @NASANewHorizons social media accounts continue to operate. The contract for these activities was forward funded. This applies to @OSIRISREx and NASA TV too. @NASA will continue to stun the world with its achievements!” Bridenstine tweeted.
(Tuesday 1/1/19) – New Horizon has survived the rendezvous with Ultima Thule after a message was received at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory on Tuesday.
According to a new image from the probe. Ultima Thule shape is made up a 10-mile long neck with two large bulges attached to both ends.
The probe will soon begin sending more images and other data back to mission control. This whole process will take nearly 2 years to complete.
(Wednesday 1/2/19) Scientists at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physic Laboratory have now discovered that Ultima Thule is two bodies connected by gravity and not by some other force, which is helpful in discovering how planets originally formed.
The snowman-shaped object was also discovered to have a reddish hue, and that it is only connected by a very narrow neck.
The object has also been measured.
It is 22 miles long and 10 miles wide. More data today will also begin to be processed, revealing the composition of the object, which could be similar to Pluto.
(Thursday 1/3/19) A gif created from two images showing differences in the terrain of Ultima Thule was released on Thursday. They also discovered that Ultima Thule has no atmosphere, no rings, and no satellites of any kind.
It has also been determined there is no significant color difference in either body. Today also marked a 7-day pause in transmissions as the probe is blocked out by the sun from our view. It will begin transmitting more data to us on January 10th and keep on transmitting data for 20 months.
Chang, Kenneth. (December 2018). NASA’s New Horizons Releases Latest Picture of Ultima Thule Ahead of New Year Flyby. The New York Times. The United States. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/31/science/ultima-thule-pictures-new-horizons.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur
Chang, Kenneth. (January 2019). NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Signals Successful Flyby of Ultima Thule, the Most Distant Object Ever Visited. The New York Times. The United States. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/31/science/new-horizons-ultima-thule.html
Dance, Scott. (January 2019). Hopkins’ New Horizons mission reveals Ultima Thule is snowman-shaped object that may explain how planets formed. The Balitmore Sun. The United States. https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/environment/bs-md-ultima-thule-findings-20190102-story.html
Dunn, Marcia. (December 2018). NASA spacecraft hurtles toward tiny, icy world beyond Pluto. The Associated Press. The United States. https://apnews.com/a3f0cf63780541a69923d59ce9d84b09