‘Snowman’ shape of dis­tant Ul­tima Thule re­vealed

The East African - - OUTLOOK -

The first pho­tos taken by NASA’S New Hori­zons space­craft of Ul­tima Thule, the most dis­tant ob­ject ever vis­ited by hu­man­ity, re­veal that the icy world re­sem­bles a snowman. The first pho­tos taken by NASA’S New Hori­zons space­craft of Ul­tima Thule, the most dis­tant ob­ject ever vis­ited by hu­man­ity, re­veal that the icy world re­sem­bles a snowman. The nu­clear-pow­ered space probe has trav­elled 6.5 bil­lion km to come within 3,540 km of Ul­tima Thule, a 32-km-long space rock in the un­charted heart of the Kuiper Belt. The belt is a ring of icy ce­les­tial bod­ies and their frigid state al­most cer­tainly holds clues to how all plan­e­tary bod­ies came into be­ing some 4.6 bil­lion years ago. Now 1.6 bil­lion km be­yond Pluto for its se­cond mis­sion into the Kuiper Belt, New Hori­zons will study the makeup of Ul­tima Thule’s at­mos­phere and ter­rain in a months-long study to seek clues about the for­ma­tion of the so­lar sys­tem and its plan­ets. NASA’S Voy­ager 1 and 2, a pair of deep-space probes launched in 1977, have reached greater dis­tances on a mis­sion to sur­vey ex­tra­so­lar bod­ies. While the mis­sion marks the far­thest close en­counter of an ob­ject within our so­lar sys­tem, NASA’S Voy­ager 1 and 2, a pair of deep-space probes launched in 1977, have reached greater dis­tances on a mis­sion to sur­vey ex­tra­so­lar bod­ies. Both probes are still op­er­a­tional.

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