NASA finds unique mixture of methanol, water ice, organic molecules on Ultima Thule

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 20 May 2019, 08:23 AM
Ultima Thule is the farthest world ever explored by mankind
Ultima Thule is the farthest world ever explored by mankind

US space agency NASA has found evidence for a unique mixture of methanol, water ice, and organic molecules on Ultima Thule’s surface. Ultima Thule is the farthest world ever explored by mankind. Revealing details about the complex space object, NASA published the first profile of Ultima Thule. Researchers are also investigating a range of surface features on Ultima Thule, such as bright spots and patches, hills and troughs, and craters and pits on Ultima Thule.

“We’re looking into the well-preserved remnants of the ancient past,” said Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado.

“There is no doubt that the discoveries made about Ultima Thule are going to advance theories of solar system formation,” said Stern, Principal Investigator of the New Horizons mission.

Ultima Thule is a contact binary, with two distinctly differently shaped lobes, NASA said.

At about 36 kilometres long, Ultima Thule consists of a large, strangely flat lobe—nicknamed “Ultima”—connected to a smaller, somewhat rounder lobe—dubbed “Thule”—at a juncture.

Earlier, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has beamed back the sharpest, images of Ultima Thule -- the most distant object ever explored by mankind. Just before its closest approach during the New Year's flyby, the spacecraft precisely pointed the cameras to snap the sharpest possible pics of the Kuiper Belt object officially named 2014 MU69. The New Horizons has sent those stored flyby images back to Earth, NASA had said in a statement. These images of Ultima Thule -- obtained just six and a half minutes before closest approach to the object at 12:33 am EST on January 1 -- offer a resolution of about 33 metres per pixel. 

First Published: Monday, May 20, 2019 08:23 AM
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