NASA declares New Horizons flyby of Ultima Thule a huge success

New Horizons Mission Operations Manager Alice Bowman of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory is seen before a news conference after the team received confirmation from the New Horizons spacecraft that it has completed the flyby of Ultim

Resembling a 33-kilometer-long interplanetary "snowman", in the words of Alan Stern, a planetary scientist from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado, and principal investigator for the $800 million mission, MU69 appears to have formed when two spherical objects gently smooshed together billions of years ago.

New images and data returned by the New Horizons probe prove Ultima Thule is a snowman-shaped contact binary, the first to be explored by a spacecraft. Let's break that down really quick: we now have real clear photographs of a celestial body some 1.5 billion kilometres further out than Pluto, taken by a probe travelling at 51,000kmh in really dim conditions.

NASA shared a graphic showing how an object like Ultima Thule forms: "as a rotating cloud of small, icy bodies started to combine".

The event set a record for the most distant ever exploration of a Solar System object.

The two spheres spiralled closer to each other and eventually got stuck together.

The same kind of accretion process produced the other moons and planets of the solar system around 4.5 billion years ago, says Jeff Moore, a co-investigator on NASA's New Horizons mission.

For more on New Horizons and its historic journey through the Solar System, watch "Pluto and Beyond", premiering tonight at 9 p.m. ET / 8 p.m CT on PBS.

If confirmed, this configuration could represent a precious snapshot of planetary formation in action, supporting the idea that the massive, orbiting bodies in our inner solar system assembled in part through the rapid coalescing of pebbles and dust.

Jamal Khashoggi murder trial: Death penalty called as trial begins
To date, the Saudi public prosecutor has not received any response, and the public prosecution is still waiting their response. During the initial hearing of the case, the defendants requested a copy of the indictment and additional time to respond.

Sen. Warren Announces 2020 Presidential Exploratory Committee
The moves follow Warren's decision to launch a presidential exploratory committee on Monday. Days after launching a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Massachusetts Sen.

New acting secretary of defense tells Pentagon 'to remember China, China, China'
Trump wished Mattis well in the retired Marine general's return to private life after two tumultuous years leading the Pentagon. The defence official said Shanahan told Pentagon leadership to follow the document's guidance, particularly regarding China.

With such a bland designation, astronomers came up with a very interesting name for this tiny object: "Ultima Thule", a Latin metaphor for a place that is beyond the borders of the known world.

The images we have of the object now show no obvious impact craters, but there are hills and ridges.

An earlier, fuzzier image made it look like a bowling pin.

Besides the improved images, scientists also refined other knowledge of the object.

Scientists can also now infer some geological properties of Ultima Thule. Now, May has combined both of his loves on "New Horizons", his first solo song in more than two decades. The larger of the pair, which scientists named Ultima, is three times bigger than the smaller one, dubbed Thule. NASA's New Horizons mission flew by the object early on January 1, and the maneuver's science data will reach Earth over the course of almost two months. The image was taken when the spacecraft was 28,000 km (18,000 mi) away, or just 30 minutes, away from making its closest approach to Ultima Thule.

Although New Horizons was the fastest spacecraft ever launched in 2006, it continues to lose ground to the older missions.

Images also revealed that the two lobes have a mottled appearance. "We know this is how many objects like this form".

Related:

  • 5 takeaways from Apple's stark China warning

    5 takeaways from Apple's stark China warning

    When it comes to the Chinese market, where Huawei is the leading smartphone choice, Apple is now coming to terms with its decline. That also represents a drop in sales revenue from the same time a year ago, when it reported record revenue of $88.3 billion.
    Chelsea accept £18m bid from Wolves for Tammy Abraham

    Chelsea accept £18m bid from Wolves for Tammy Abraham

    Aston Villa's hopes of promotion could be dealt a major blow with news that Tammy Abraham could leave this month. Abraham is now on loan at Championship side Aston Villa and has been clocking regular minutes at Villa Park.
    USB Type-C Authentication Program launched to protect your devices

    USB Type-C Authentication Program launched to protect your devices

    As of now, hooking up your device with an unknown USB Type-C charger could be a major potential threat in terms of data security. The authentication keys would prove a USB-C device is safe, allowing your computer or phone to connect.
  • Troy Tulowitzki agrees to deal with Yankees

    Troy Tulowitzki agrees to deal with Yankees

    Andujar was the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year runner-up to Los Angeles Angels pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani. The deal, which is pending a completed physical, doesn't take the Yankees out of the race to sign Manny Machado .
    Netflix begs fans to stop doing the 'Bird Box challenge'

    Netflix begs fans to stop doing the 'Bird Box challenge'

    If you were still unconvinced that streaming is the way of the future, Bird Box's recent numbers might change your mind. The " Bird Box Challenge " consists of people living their everyday lives blindfolded as if they were in the movie.
    Russia charges former U.S. marine with espionage

    Russia charges former U.S. marine with espionage

    He told Security Magazine in 2013 that his job at Kelly Services involved, in part, preventing workplace violence. He is also accused of attempting to recruit a friend to obtain information from Russian departments and agencies.
  • 6 passengers fall ill on flight from Cleveland to Tampa

    6 passengers fall ill on flight from Cleveland to Tampa

    Tiffany McKinney, a passenger on the flight told WFLA-TV that people were "just coming out of nowhere" and throwing up. Six people fell ill Tuesday afternoon on a Frontier flight to Tampa from Cleveland , officials say.
    Taliban Delegation Engages in Talks with Government in Tehran

    Taliban Delegation Engages in Talks with Government in Tehran

    Diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict have intensified after Taliban representatives started meeting USA envoy Zalmay Khalilzad this year.
    Burke stands down as Vatican spokesman

    Burke stands down as Vatican spokesman

    The former Fox News journalist, who joined the Vatican in 2012, described his experience as "fascinating, to say the least". During Burke and Ovejero's tenure, the top two jobs in the Vatican press room were, unusually, held by non-Italians.
  • First meteor shower of 2019 peaks tonight

    While most meteor showers have two-day peak, Quadrantids only peak for a few hours, so plan accordingly. This particular asteroid is 2003 EH1, which takes 5.52 years to orbit the sun once.
    Kawhi Leonard wishes for different end to Spurs tenure

    Kawhi Leonard wishes for different end to Spurs tenure

    The power forward had an astounding month in which he averaged 22.7 points while shooting 58 percent from the floor. But any thought that San Antonio Spurs fans might treat Leonard to even a mixed reaction were quickly dashed.
    Search of collapsed building ends with 39 deaths

    Search of collapsed building ends with 39 deaths

    Witnesses described a "wave of fire" and said the blast was strong enough to shatter windows in nearby buildings. The Emergency Situations Ministry said that 26 apartments with 46 residents were destroyed in the collapse.

Comments

Latest news

LeBron James leads pack in early All-Star voting
Voting for the All-Star game starters remains open until January 22 (NZ time), with the starters revealed on January 25 (NZ time). The leading vote-getter from each conference is selected as a captain for their respective team in the All-Star Game.

Spurs use 46-point third quarter to beat Celtics
San Antonio attacked the paint in the second half with brawny Boston post Aron Baynes out due to a fractured finger. Celtics: After taking New Year's Day off, Boston returns to action January 2 to open a four-game homestand.

Donald Trump is doubling down on Game of Thrones memes
Reporters asked presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway why President Trump was sitting so close to the Game of Thrones poster. But such a move would make Trump "look foolish" given that the wall was a key campaign promise, he reportedly said.

Liverpool suffer first Premier League defeat at the Etihad
Klopp insisted Liverpool would bounce back from their first setback of what has been a dream season so far. City simply have to keep the pressure on and hope they get some help from their rivals against Liverpool .

Domestic violence charge against Redskins LB Reuben Foster dropped
Foster was playing for the San Francisco 49ers and was in Tampa to play the Buccaneers when he was arrested . That charge was eventually dismissed after he completed a first-time offender diversion course.

Cooperation best for both, Xi tells Trump
Xi said on Monday that China had welcomed many "new and old friends" to the country, hosting several worldwide forums this year. But concerns have been intensifying that Beijing and Washington could begin to engage in a cold war-like rivalry this year.

Brexit: US ambassador to UK Johnson warns on trade deal
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said Monday that May has made a "mess" out of Brexit and put Britain into an unneeded crisis. We'll work to create a society where the talent of everyone is unleashed.

Ariana Grande And Childish Gambino Are Coachella’s 2019 Headliners
It typically attracts some of the biggest names in music with previous headliners including Guns N' Roses, Lady Gaga and Drake. Coachella will be taking place on April 12th through the 14th and again on the 19th through the 21st.

Vatican spokesman, deputy resign suddenly amid overhaul by Pope Francis
He named a longtime member of the Vatican's communications operations, Alessandro Gisotti, as an interim replacement for Burke. The pontiff of Catholic Church, Pope Francis has said it was better to be an atheist than a hypocritical Christian.

Firmino hat-trick fires Liverpool to easy win over Arsenal
It was the first time Klopp's side had trailed at home since December 30, 2017 but within three minutes they were level. However, Klopp repeated his plea of recent weeks for his players not to get carried away.

Australia v India: Cheteshwar Pujara scores century as tourists dominate first day
India then fell to be 4-228 after Starc picked up his first wicket with a brutal short ball that saw Ajinkya Rahane caught on 18. Nathan Lyon managed one wicket in the second session, but no one else was able to breakthrough for the home side.

North Korean envoy to Italy 'missing'
Citing an unidentified expert, it said he was known to be the son or son-in-law of a top-ranking North Korean official. North Korea often accuses the South of deceiving or paying people to defect, or claims that they have been kidnapped.

Browns open wide coaching search; Williams first interview
There are plenty of rumors, but at this point, no one knows exactly who will be named the Cleveland Browns' next head coach.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp says goalkeeper Alisson has surprised him this season
Expectations of silverware might be growing on Merseyside but Klopp is unconcerned by how his players will cope with the fanfare. They sit comfortably at the top of the pile with 7 points cushion over second-placed Manchester City.

Trump Blames Democrats for Deaths of Children at the Border
After she began experiencing seizures, Caal was flown to a hospital in El Paso, Texas, where she died two days later. They're coming in every day. "This fixation on the wall is such a distraction from real solutions", Escobar said.

Other news