‘Place beyond the known world’- close flyby of Ultima Thule: NASA
Source :NewsBharati   Date :01-Jan-2019

 



 

Washington, DC Jan 1: On New Year’s Day, “place beyond the known world,” this is located deep in the solar system. In a press release, New Horizons said no spacecraft has explored this new horizon. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will fly by Ultima Thule, a distant “worldlet” located four billion miles from the sun.

“The @NASANewHorizons spacecraft zipped past #UltimaThule just moments ago, making history once again!” the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), which operates the spacecraft and manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, wrote in a tweet.

As per information given by NASA-

Ultima Thule is located in the Kuiper belt in the outermost regions of the Solar System, beyond the orbit of Neptune. In the early morning of January 1st 2019 Eastern Time, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will fly by Ultima Thule at a distance of 3500 km (2200 miles). At this time, Ultima Thule will be at a distance of almost 6.5 billion km (4 billion miles) from the Sun, making this the most distant planetary flyby that has yet been attempted, and the first time that a Solar System object of this type has been seen close-up.

The flyby will also reveal whether it has any moons or even a ring system. Ultima Thule belongs to a class of Kuiper belt objects called the "cold classicals", which have nearly circular orbits with low inclinations to the solar plane, and which have not been perturbed since their formation perhaps 4.6 billion years ago. Ultima Thule will, therefore, be the most primitive planetary object yet explored, and will reveal to us what conditions were like in this distant part of the Solar System as it condensed from the solar nebula.

Ultima Thule measures approximately 30 km in diameter and is irregularly shaped. In July 2017, Ultima Thule passed in front of a star as seen from Earth (a stellar occultation), allowing astronomers to determine that its shape is most likely a contact binary (two bodies that are touching) or a close binary system (two objects that are orbiting each other). An artist's impression of Ultima Thule as a contact binary is shown in the accompanying picture.