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SPACE: NASA reveals Ultima Thule ice world infographic
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“Snowman” shape of distant Ultima Thule revealed

01/03/2019
Graphic News

January 1, 2019 -- The first photos taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft of Ultima Thule, the most distant object ever visited by humanity, reveal that the icy world resembles a snowman.

The first photos taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft of Ultima Thule, the most distant object ever visited by humanity, reveal that the icy world resembles a snowman.

The nuclear-powered space probe has travelled 6.5 billion km to come within 3,540 km of Ultima Thule, a 32-km-long space rock in the uncharted heart of the Kuiper Belt. The belt is a ring of icy celestial bodies and their frigid state almost certainly holds clues to how all planetary bodies came into being some 4.6 billion years ago.

Now 1.6 billion km beyond Pluto for its second mission into the Kuiper Belt, New Horizons will study the makeup of Ultima Thule’s atmosphere and terrain in a months-long study to seek clues about the formation of the solar system and its planets.

While the mission marks the farthest close encounter of an object within our solar system, NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2, a pair of deep-space probes launched in 1977, have reached greater distances on a mission to survey extrasolar bodies. Both probes are still operational.


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