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NASA Publishes First Kuiper Belt Flyby Science Results



  The first part of the Kuiper Belt Flyby Science Results

The composite image of the primordial binary contact Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69 (nicknamed Ultima Thule) – featured on the May 17 issue of the Science journal – was compiled from data obtained through NASA's New Horizons spacecraft while riding it through the object on January 1, 2019. The image combines enhanced color data (close to what the human eye can see) with detailed panchromatic high resolution images. Credits: NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwest Research Institute / Roman Tkachenko

NASA's New Horizons mission team has published the first profile of the furthest world ever explored, a planet building block and the Kuiper Belt object called 2014 MU69. [19659004] Analyzes the first set of data gathered in the 2019 Newby's New Year's 2019 flyby of the New Horizons which released the MU69 (nicknamed Ultima Thule) the mission team quickly finding something more complicated than expected. The team publishes the first peer-reviewed study and interpretation results – just four months after the flight – on May 17 issue of the Science journal.

Aside from being the farthest exploration of something in history – four billion miles from The Earth – the flyby of Ultima Thule is also the first investigation through any space mission of a well-preserved planetesimal, an ancient relic from during the formation of the planet.

The first data summarized in Science reveal much about the development of matter, geology and composition. It is a binary contact, with two distinctly different lobes. At 36 miles (36 km), the Ultima Thule consists of a large, strangely flat convex (nicknamed "Ultima") connected to a smaller, relatively rounder convex (nicknamed "Thule"), at a juncture nicknamed " the neck. " How two lobes get their unique shape is an unexpected mystery that is likely to be associated with how billions of years ago were formed.

The lobsters tend to orbite each other, as many so-called binary worlds in the Kuiper Belt, until some of the processes carried them to what scientists have shown to be a "gentle" same. As it happens, most binary orbital moments should be destroyed for things together, but scientists do not know if it is because of aerodynamic forces from gas in the ancient solar nebula, or if the Ultima and Thule has shown that other lobsters have formed them to relieve their energy and to shrink their orbit. The alignment of the Ultima and Thule axes indicates that before the merger of the two lobes should be locked, which means that both sides are always faced with each other while they are orbited at the same point.

"We are looking at the well preserved remains of ancient times," says New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. "There is no doubt that the discoveries made about Ultima Thule will promote the theory of solar system development."

As the Science paper report, New Horizons researchers also examined various features over the Ultima Thule, such as bright spots and patches, hills and troughs, and craters and pits in Ultima Thule. The biggest depression is a 5-mile-wide (8-kilometer-wide) feature with the nickname of the Maryland crater team – which is likely to be generated from an impact. However, some smaller pits in the matter of the Kuiper Belt can be created by material falling into underground spaces, or because of the strange ices coming from a solid to a gas (called sublimation) and leaving pits in its place.

In color and composition, the Ultima Thule resembles many other things found in the Kuiper Belt area. It is very red – redder even larger, 2,400 – kilometer (2,400 – kilometer) wide Pluto where New Horizons experienced the inner edge of the Kuiper Belt in 2015 – and in fact the reddest outer solar system object visited by the spacecraft; His reddish color is believed to be caused by the transformation of organic materials on its surface New Horizons scientists found evidence for methanol, water ice, and organic molecules over the Ultima Thule – a mixture very different from the most- icy objects were explored previously by the spacecraft. 19659004] Delivering data from the flyby will continue, and will continue until the end of the summer of 2020. Meanwhile, New Horizons continues to carry out new observations of additional things that the Kuiper Belt is passing through . Additional KBOs are too far to show the findings as in MU69, but the team can measure aspects such as the light of the object. The New Horizons are continuously releasing the environment charged particles of radiation and dust on the Kuiper Belt.

The New Horizons spacecraft is now 4.1 billion miles (6.6 billion kilometers) from Earth, which normally works and fasts on the Kuiper Belt at about 33,000 miles (53,000 kilometers) per hour.

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, designed, built and operated the New Horizons spacecraft, and managed the mission for NASA's Director of Science Mission. The MSFC Planetary Management Office provides NASA oversight for New Horizons. The Southwest Research Institute, based in San Antonio, leads the mission through the Principal Investigator Stern, and leads the science team, freight operations and science planning. New Horizons is part of the New Frontiers Program managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Publication: SA Stern, et al., "First results from the exploration of the New Horizons of 2014 MU 69 a small thing in the Kuiper Belt," Science 17 May 2019: Vol. 364, Issue 6441, eaaw9771; DOI: 10.1126 / science.aaw9771


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