New Horizons Probe Successfully Flew by Ultima Thule, the Farthest Space Object Ever

Humanity sent a spacecraft to the farthest object ever explored, Ultima Thule, in the Kuiper Belt. The New Horizon Probe reached a record-setting space mission 4 billion miles away, a billion miles beyond Pluto.

This is the first exploration of a Kuiper Belt object up close. The flyby occurred at 12:33 a.m. ET on Tuesday, but the signal didn’t reach us until about 10:30 a.m. ET. The Kuiper Belt is the edge of our solar system

New Horizons sent back images of Ultima Thule — taken from half a million miles out.This is the best look scientists have ever had Ultima Thule. Before, they saw it as only a single pixel.

Ultima Thule, previously known as 2014 MU69, appears to have a bowling pin shape that’s spinning like a propeller. It’s could also be two objects orbiting each other. Higher resolution images should come streaming in all this week.

The New Horizons mission was launched by NASA in 2006 and took a nearly 10 year journey to conduct a flyby of Pluto in 2015, its mission was then extended in 2016 to visit the Kuiper Belt. 

 

 

Image: “Detecting Ultima Thule’s Size and Shape on Approach” by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL), and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is in the Public Domain