The most detailed images of Ultima Thule received just minutes before the nearest spacecraft approach at 12:33 am on January 1. – The camera on board the New Horizons spacecraft was tough. The probe is only six minutes away from its closest approach to Ultima Thule, a site officially called 2014 MU69, located in the kepper belt around the external solar system.
One, two, three ̵
1; images, each with exposure time is only 0.025 seconds. Four, five, six – and now the spacecraft was less than 7,000 kilometers from the target. Seven, eight, nine – these pictures had to be perfect because New Horizons crossed Ultima Thule at a speed of over 50,000 km / h.
Only recently did the researchers succeed in removing all these images and collecting composites. contact binary image. With a resolution of 33 meters per pixel, this is probably as good as that of Ultima Thule. And it still looks like a snowman, a peanut, a pancake or a combination of them.
"Obtaining these images required us to know exactly where the little Ultima and New Horizons were – from moment to moment – passing each other to more than 32,000 miles per hour in the faint light of Kaiper's belt, a billion miles from Pluto, said Alan Stern, the chief explorer of New Horizons, in a press release. "This was a much stricter observation than anything we had experienced in the past in 2015."
New Horizons scientists created this film of 14 different images taken shortly before the aircraft flew past the object of the Courier belt called Ultima Thule.
There are some interesting details here, especially the contrast between several bright circles, and astronomers will now look at these images – and the data taken from six other New Horizons scientific instruments – to better understand the nature of these characteristics and to heal . it was caused by strokes or processes in Ultima Thule.
New Horizons continues to fly forward, with its lonely road, which takes it more than 6.6 billion kilometers from Earth. It takes more than six hours of radio signals from the spacecraft to reach the Earth via NASA's Deep Space Network. But the spacecraft is sturdy, and probably Stern, and his colleagues will strive to fly with one additional object in Kaiper's belt before releasing their spaceship forever.