The year has started good for NASA, since New Horizons got closer to the most distant object that people have tried to visit, and that is a space rock that’s called Ultima Thule. The people from NASA soon found out that Ultima Thule is not one object, but actually two, which made this entire thing the first contact binary that has ever been studied in detail.
NASA is continuously gathering more and more data, and the New Horizon team has revealed to the public a detailed glimpse of Ultima Thule, and it’s amazing.
The image was captured during the New Year’s Day by the New Horizon aircraft, by its Multicolor Visible Imaging Camera, to be exact, and it gave us a more detailed look at the surface of the space rock. We have never seen this before. We can see the ridges and the craters, and the contact point between those two objects.
With the help of this image, we see the differences in the geologic character of the two lobes of it. They’re planning to better the resolution of the photos in order to see the mysteries of Ultima Thule.
Why did it take so long to get these clear images?
Due to the distance and, of course, the spacecraft. New Horizons came with a lot of information while it went passed Ultima Thule, and it simply cannot send all the data at once. The aircraft spends some months to deliver some of the data, until all of its observations are received on the Earth.
The spacecraft is currently at a distance of over four billion miles from Earth, so it takes about 7 hours for the radio signal to get from New Horizons to our planet. It takes much more than that to collect all the data.
Meagan Kozlovs is a reporter for Debate Report. She’s worked and interned at Global News Toronto and CHECX. Megan is based in Toronto and covers issues affecting her city. In addition to her severe milk shake addiction, she’s a Netflix enthusiast, a red wine drinker, and a voracious reader.