First Clear Picture Of Ultima Thule Reveals Snowman-Like Shape

Here's Our First Image Of Ultima Thule, The 'Most Distant Object Ever Visited By A Spacecraft' - Digg

But two new images of the Kuiper Belt world taken from a no-closer distance of 50,000 km by New Horizons reveal 2014 MU69 to be a contact binary, meaning it is composed of two spherical objects that formed separately before gently easing together to form the object we see today. New Horizons's journey into the solar system's past has just begun.

It's an fantastic discovery, especially considering that the possibility of Ultima Thule being a binary duo had been floated a number of times over the course of the lengthy New Horizons mission.

The object has two lobes, with the larger one now taking the name Ultima and the smaller becoming Thule.

"We could not be happier", New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern said.

A NASA spacecraft travelling through space sent back pictures of the most distant object explored by mankind on Wednesday.

Since the first approach photographs were released (which were pixilated and blurry), the New Horizons team has released new images from the spacecraft that show Ultimate Thule in color and greater detail.

"Let me say that bowling pin is gone - it's a snowman, if it's anything at all". This image was taken by the craft's Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC), which combines light from the infrared, red and blue channels.

Well, now NASA and the New Horizons team have delivered!

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We can tell you it's leaning under, but it has also generated a spread pick that cashes well over 50 percent of the time. Kelly and Notre Dame were totally outclassed by Dabo Swinney, Trevor Lawrence , and Clemson in the Cotton Bowl 30-3.

Scientists had suspected that Ultima Thule would not be perfectly round since the summer of 2017, when a global network of observers found the rock passing in front of a distant star.

Scientists weren't able to confirm the flyby until several hours later. The image on the left is an enhanced color image, the center image is a higher resolution image of the object and the right image shows the color overlaid onto the higher resolution image.

Stern noted that the team has received less than 1 percent of all the data stored aboard New Horizons.

An earlier image of the spinning ball of dust and ice, captured by the spacecraft from about 500,000 kilometres out, was so fuzzy and grainy Dr Stern told those gathered at the press conference it was "OK to laugh".

Though they do not appear to have impact craters, there could be hills and ridges, with the neck connecting the two lobes being one of the steepest slopes. The new images and data confirmed the icy space rock's classification as a contact binary. They also claim that the two spheres are likely to have come together very shortly after the formation of the Solar System.

The "snowman", named Ultima Thule, orbits an area known as the Kuiper Belt. But unlike the planets, which have undergone dramatic geologic change, and comets, which are heated and transformed by the sun, the Kuiper belt object has existed in a "deep freeze" since it first formed, 4.6 billion years ago.

It will take as long as 20 months for scientists to download and process all the data collected during their brief encounter with Ultima Thule, scientists said.

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