Heil Heavens? NASA Gives Far-Off Space Object Nazi-Friendly Name
Jan 05, 2019, 00:44
Among other things, Ultima Thule has been compared to a giant space turtle, a fat bowling pin and "Kenny from South Park".
"Ultima Thule"-a traditional name of distant places beyond the known world-was a "relatively common suggestion" among some 34,000 publicly nominated monikers, Newsweek's Meghan Bartels reported in March".
The team has dubbed the larger sphere "Ultima", which measures 19 km (12 mi) in diameter, and the smaller sphere "Thule" (14 km; 9 mi). That means the object is slightly shorter but a bit wider than was believed just yesterday.
The pictures from Ultima Thule were revealed on Wednesday.
All of this information came from "far less than 1% of the data on New Horizons that has reached the ground", said Alan Stern, mission principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute. Scientists say no impact craters could be seen in the latest photos.
"#UltimaThule used to be 2 separate objects".
"We think what we're looking at is perhaps the most primitive object that has yet been seen by any spacecraft, and may represent a class of objects which are the oldest and most primitive objects that can be seen anywhere in the present solar system", Mr Moore said.
Likely the result of a gentle collision shortly after the birth of the Solar System, Ultima Thule is revealed to be a contact binary, two connected sphere-like shapes held in contact by mutual gravity'. After successfully completing its Plutoflyby in 2015, the agency redirected the spacecraft to visit an even more distant object known as Ultima Thule. At right, the color was draped over the black and white image.
About thirty minutes after the probe conducted its flyby of Ultima Thule (2014 MU69), the mission controllers were treated to the first clear images ever taken of a KBO. "We are seeing a physical representation of the beginning of planetary formation, frozen in time", he said.
Ultima Thule is over 40 times farther from the Sun than Earth; this deep in outer space, temperatures clock in around -400 degrees Fahrenheit-and these frigid, Sun-starved conditions can make for fairly pristine preservation.
The spacecraft will continue sending images and other data over the next 20 months.
Dr. May has been working with the New Horizon mission's science team and told the New York Times that he was reluctant to put on his rock star hat when a colleague first requested a new song about the mission. But now, "that image is so 2018", Stern quipped during the press conference. Olkin said the initial data will focus on specific bands that could help scientists identify water ice or other volatiles.
Stern expressed surprise, and elation, that after picking the mission target "more or less" out of the hat, "that we were able to get as big a victor as this, that is going to revolutionize our knowledge of planetary science".
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