Share Ultima Thule was like “damn”.
Two lobes of the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 or Ultima Thule was more flat than previously thought, and looks more like pancakes than a sphere. To such conclusion the New Horizons mission, which sent new images taken 9 minutes after closest approach him on 1 January 2019, according to the website of the mission, informs Rus.Media.
New Horizons is the first spacecraft that flew past Pluto at close range, and managed to find out what the dwarf planet is cryovolcano, glaciers, mountain ranges and characteristics of the subsurface ocean. Then the mission leadership decided in the period from 2016 to 2021 to explore the Kuiper belt, which is located at a distance of 30-55 astronomical units from the Sun and contains of the body remaining after the formation of the Solar system.
The main objective of the research was the object 2014 MU69, or Ultima Thule (Ultima Thule – the name was given in honor of a mythical island in the North of Europe in ancient and medieval literature and cartography). It transneptune object makes one revolution around the Sun for 295 years. The station took 140 second flyby 2014 MU69 January 1, 2019 05:33 GMT, the minimum object distance was about 3500 kilometers.
Images taken by the camera showed that the color of the object is reminiscent of a similar color region detected on Charon and Pluto, where the color of the surface due to the presence of complex organic molecules TANU. Color Ultima Thule is the same color similar bodies in the Kuiper Belt and is characteristic of contact binary systems where the bodies are fully merged, and orbit around a common center of mass. Previously the team showed some new images of the object, in particular the most clear picture, which became visible pits and hollows, like impact craters and grooves on the surface Ultimi Tula.
Recently, the station sent 14 new images of the object, which were obtained onboard camera LORRI (Long Range Reconnaissance Imager) after 9 minutes after closest approach him January 1, 2019, the distance to the Ultima Thule at the time of the shooting was 8862 miles. Pictures in the new shape 2014 MU69, almost completely hidden in the dark, seen against the starry sky. Analysis of the obtained images showed that the shape of the two lobes of the object is not similar to spherical as previously thought, but more flat and like a pancake (“Ultima”) and crumpled walnut (“Tule”). This is very unusual, these objects were not previously observed in the Solar System.