| NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft takes images of Ultima Thule as it leaves
News about Space and Science
Space news,Space hub,earth,mars,saturn,nasa,science news,scientists,moon
2900
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-2900,single-format-standard,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-title-hidden,paspartu_enabled,qode_grid_1400,qode-content-sidebar-responsive,qode-theme-ver-16.8,qode-theme-bridge,disabled_footer_top,disabled_footer_bottom,qode_header_in_grid,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.5.2,vc_responsive
nasas-new-horizons-spacecraft-takes-images-of-ultima-thule-as-it-leaves

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft takes images of Ultima Thule as it leaves

February 10, 2019 |


Print This Post

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNew Horizons took this image of the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 (nicknamed Ultima Thule) on Jan. 1, 2019, when the NASA spacecraft was 5,494 miles (8,862 kilometers) beyond it. Mission scientists have been able to process the image, removing the motion blur to produce a sharper, brighter view of Ultima Thule’s thin crescent. (NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/National Optical Astronomy Observatory)Scientists’ understanding of Ultima Thule has changed as they review additional data. The “old view” in this illustration is based on images taken within a day of New Horizons’ closest approach to the Kuiper Belt object on Jan. 1, 2019, suggesting that both of “Ultima” (the larger section, or lobe) and “Thule” (the smaller) were nearly perfect spheres just barely touching each other. But as more data were analyzed, including several highly evocative crescent images taken nearly 10 minutes after closest approach, a “new view” of the object’s shape emerged. Ultima more closely resembles a “pancake,” and Thule a “dented walnut.” (NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

The object’s illuminated crescent is blurred in the individual frames because a relatively long exposure time was used during this rapid scan to boost the camera’s signal level – but the science team combined and processed the images to remove the blurring and sharpen the thin crescent.

Many background stars are also seen in the individual images; watching which stars “blinked out” as the object passed in front them allowed scientists to outline the shape of both lobes, which could then be compared to a model assembled from analyzing pre-flyby images and ground-based telescope observations.

“The shape model we have derived from all of the existing Ultima Thule imagery is remarkably consistent with what we have learned from the new crescent images,” says Simon Porter, a New Horizons co-investigator from the Southwest Research Institute, who leads the shape-modeling effort.

“While the very nature of a fast flyby in some ways limits how well we can determine the true shape of Ultima Thule, the new results clearly show that Ultima and Thule are much flatter than originally believed, and much flatter than expected,” added Hal Weaver, New Horizons project scientist from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. “This will undoubtedly motivate new theories of planetesimal formation in the early solar system.”

The images in this sequence  will be available on the New Horizons LORRI website this week. Raw images from the camera are posted to the site each Friday.

Sections

Technology

Topics

, , , , , , , ,




No Comments

Post A Comment