NASA introduces Ultima Thule! Most distant exploration ever completed by humankind

NASA, on Wednesday, announced that an icy celestial body nicknamed Ultima Thule is floating approximately 4 billion miles away from the Sun.

NASA introduces Ultima Thule! Most distant exploration ever completed by humankind
The image was taken at a distance close to 17,000 miles. (Image: NASA/ Twitter)
By: ABP News Bureau
Updated: 03 Jan 2019 03:09 PM
Washington | US: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), on Wednesday, announced that an icy celestial body nicknamed Ultima Thule is floating approximately 4 billion miles away from the Sun. According to the pictures released by the international space agency, the distant Kuiper Belt object – which got a close visit from the New Horizons spacecraft on New Year’s Day – looks like two balls stuck together. The first lot of detailed images clicked from New Horizon mission helped scientists in determining that the celestial body took this unique snowman-like shape after two spheres slowly gravitated towards each other until they stuck together.

According to news agency AFP, the New Horizons spacecraft on Tuesday flew past Ultima Thule, which was discovered via telescope in 2014 and is the farthestand potentially oldest cosmic body ever observed by a spacecraft. About ten hours ago, NASA shared a picture of the snowman-shaped Ultima Thule on Twitter.


“After flying by the most distant object ever explored, @NASANewHorizons beamed back the 1st pictures & science data from #UltimaThule. This data is helping us understand how planets form — both those in our own solar system & those orbiting other stars,” NASA said on Twitter.

Prior to this, the only image NASA had was a blurred one which looked like oblong shape which resembled somewhat like a peanut. Commenting about the same, lead investigating officer Alan Stern said, “This image is so 2018... Meet Ultima Thule.” The image was taken at a distance close to 17,000 miles (around 27,000 kms) with an elevated image resolution of 140 meters per pixel.

“The old bowling pin is gone – it’s a snowman if anything at all,” Stern said while addressing a NASA briefing. According to Stern, Ultima Thule’s surface reflects light about as much as garden-variety dirt as sun rays are 1,600 times fainter there as compared to that on earth.

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