A new shot taken minutes before NASA's New Horizons shot from a rocky object in the Kaiser's New Year's Day belt shows the double-divided world called Ultima Thule is covered with intriguing fractures and a big crater depression, 19659002] The photo, published on Thursday, shows Ultima Thule – officially called 2014 MU69 – in more detail details of the images taken off the New Horizons spacecraft in the hours and days after its Kuiper encounter. While the earlier images showed the shape and color of Ultima Thule, they did not have a separator the ability to recognize subtle details such as craters and textures that scientists are ready to see in their quest to better understand how icy, rocky material is merging to form larger objects in the ultimate account formed the planets of the Solar System.
The picture, published on Thursday, was filmed by Multicolor Visible Imaging Camer component of Ralph's New Horizons spacecraft at a distance of about 4,200 miles (6700 kilometers) from Ultima Thule, just seven minutes before the nearest probe approach to Object in the Couper's Belt at 00:33 EST (0533 GMT 
New Year's Flight made Ultima Thule the remotest object that was once explored from near distance.
Ultima Thule is not even known to scientists when New Horizons started in 2006. – The first flight to New Horizons in 2015 – Ultima Thule was launched in 2014 by astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope.
"This new image begins to reveal the geological differences between the two Ultima Thule shovels and introduces new mysteries," said Alan Stern, chief investigator at New Horizons Mission at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "Next month we will have better colors and better resolution images that we hope will help to uncover the many mysteries of Ultima Thule." topographic top-of-day or terminator details near the top of the picture. Scientists have identified numerous small pits with a diameter of 0.7 miles and a higher resolution image also reveals a larger circular depression of about 4 miles (7 km) in the smaller of the two the Ultima Thule shovel. ] "It is unclear whether these pits are impact craters or features stemming from other processes such as" pile collapsing "or the ancient release of volatile materials," light and dark samples of unknown origin wrote in the press release. reveal clues about how this body was assembled during the formation of the solar system 4,5 billion years ago, "the press release continues." One of the most impressive is the "collar" light that separates the two shovels. "
Scientists believe that two objects are formed and self-merging into a collision at a slow speed to create a Ultima Thule that is about 21 miles (34 kilometers)
Scientists relate to the larger of the two shovels of the object, such as Ultima, and the smaller such as Thule, Stern said earlier this month that New Horizons' scientific team will present official proposals to name the site and its features on the surface of the International Astronomical Union later this year.
Each lobe is approximately spherical in shape, and the larger body has about 2.6 times its internal volume, with the smaller portion, according to the first scientific article written after the New Horizons flight.
Ultima Thule is the first object of this type – a category of planetary bodies that scientists call "bipolar contact" binary, "once explored by a spacecraft so far off Earth. The object is also part of a population of objects in the Kaiper belt – a ring of dwarf planets and smaller scale pieces outside Neptune's orbit – called "cold classics," which are left in the same area of the solar system in which they were originally formed about 4.5 billion years ago.
Planets, comets, and other objects have slipped closer or farther than the sun through the history of the Solar System. Another known contact binary object, Comet 67P / Churumov-Gerasimenko, was visited by the space agency Rosetta of the European Space Agency from 2014 to 2016.
Stern and members of the New Horizons team wrote on paper that the arrival of Ultima Thule is in line with the relict planetary body that is probably created by the collapse of a cloud pebble in the outer solar system.
"How the two love of MU69 merges, how gently and how the angular impulse is lost before the final contact are puzzles that have to be resolved by returning more data and detailed modeling," writes Stern and other scientists in paper on 9 January.
New Horizons finds no signs of a moon or companion of Ultima Thule, although there are still pictures to be analyzed. The paper scientists from January 9 also wrote that the spacecraft's counter has not recorded any impact on time of the closest part of the sequence.
It will take about 20 months for all New Horizons data to return to Earth due to the long distance and slow transfer speed between the antenna of the probe and the reception of dishes on the ground. January 4, when the spacecraft was too close to the sun in the sky to allow for reliable communication.
The data stored in the spacecraft's data recorders will return back to the scientists a bit faster than 1000 bits per second. The data will not be permanent as the probe conducts other scientific observations and NASA's Deep Space Network antennas support other interplanetary missions.
New Horizons is currently 4.13 billion miles (6.64 billion kilometers) from Earth. At this distance the radio signal takes six hours and nine minutes to travel from New Horizons to Earth.
The final data from the Ultima Thule meeting is expected to arrive on Earth by September 2020. Follow Steven Clark on Twitter @ StephenClark1 .