- NASA has published results from the first sets of data gathered during the New Horizons spacecraft’s flyby of Ultima Thule. The results have been published in the journal Science.
- Ultima Thule is a Kuiper Belt object and the farthest object ever explored. The object is officially named 2014 MU69.
- It is contact binary that is single object with two lobes attached gently. NASA dubbed the larger lobe as Ultima and three times smaller lobe as Thule.
- NASA has found evidence for a unique mixture of methanol, water ice, and organic molecules on Ultima Thule’s surface.
- Further, a range of surface features have been found; such as such as bright spots and patches, hills and troughs, and craters and pits. The largest depression is a 8-kilometer-wide feature the team has nicknamed Maryland crater
- In colour, Ultima Thule has a reddish hue which is believed to be caused by modification of the organic materials on its surface.
- According to scientists, the lobes likely once orbited each other until some process brought them together. The alignment of the axes of Ultima and Thule indicates that before the merger the two lobes must have become tidally locked, meaning that the same sides always faced each other as they orbited around the same point.
- The Kuiper belt occasionally called the Edgeworth–Kuiper belt, is a circumstellar disc in the outer Solar System, extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun. It consists of icy objects, which are remnants from the formation of the solar system. Pluto is also a part of the Kuiper Belt.
- The New Horizons spacecraft was launched in 2006. It is the first mission to explore the Kuiper belt.
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