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NASA delivers the best view yet of the space snowman Ultima Thule




NASA / Johns Hopkins University of Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwest Research Institute

On New Year's Day, when NASA's New Horizons Probe took pictures of the farthest world we had ever explored, the vehicle sped past the rock at a speed of 32,000 miles an hour.

The conducive conditions for an extremely high-resolution recording of the world, which we know as Ultima Thule.

However, the NASA team came through with the merchandise, revealing Ultima Thule as a contact binary ̵

1; a dual-lobed rock Many suggested looking like a Snowman or Star Wars droid BB-8 , The flyby had paid off, and New Horizons would send pictures to Earth for the next 20 months. Give or take.

On January 24, the New Horizons team unveiled Ultima Thule's most recent high-resolution image. Yes, it does look like a snowman, but the poor guy has a big bump in his little head. The above image was taken on January 1, just seven minutes before the spacecraft's next approach to the snowman, from the New Horizons Wide Angle Multicolor (MVIC) camera. It has been digitally enhanced via a process called "deconvolution", which sharpens the image.

"This new image is beginning to show differences in the geological character of the two rags of Ultima Thule and also introduces new secrets," said Alan Stern, chief investigator for the New Horizons team, in a statement.

The high resolution image provides a new view of Ultima Thule as the sun illuminates the lobes from a different, oblique angle to previous images. It shows numerous wells in the distant world, including the large pit on the smaller lobe, which has a diameter of about 4 miles (about 6.8 kilometers). The New Horizons team suggests a number of possible causes for the depression, including impact craters, the release of materials from Ultima Thule ("aeration") or "collapse pits".

And although this is our best picture so far the team expects even more images to be shot back in better color and resolution next month. Really, that's just the tip of the snowman.

Ultima Thule is the first object on the Kuiper Belt we flew past and was able to grab thanks to the New Horizons spacecraft, which provided with these stunning images of Pluto . Ultima Thule is about 4 billion kilometers from Earth, possibly 4.5 billion years old. He can tell us a lot about the formation of bodies in our solar system.

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