NASA has recently revealed to the world what Ultima Thule, the mystery object located 1.6 billion kilometers beyond Pluto, looks like.
As noted by astronomers, Ultima Thule is as of now the most distant known world in our solar system, located around 6 Billion kilometers from Earth.
The new image of Ultimat Thule was snapped by the New Horizons Spacecraft as it was approaching the object at around 6,700 kilometers, obtaining a cleaner and sharper image of the object, revealing unprecedented surface details of the object.
The object was photographed using the Spacecraft’s wide-angle Multicolor Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) which provides an incredible resolution of 5000 x 32 pixels.
The image was taken some seven minutes before the spacecraft made its closest approach.
Mission scientists have identified a number of interesting details on the surface of the ‘contact binary’ including what appears to be a massive dent on the object’s left side.
Since Ultima Thule and New Horizons are located so far away from Earth, it takes approximately six hours for data gathered by the spacecraft to reach Earth.
The new high-resolution images of Ultima Thule were transmitted by New Horizons between January 18 and 19.
Speaking about the new image of Ultima Thule, Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado explained in a statement:
“The oblique lighting of this image reveals new topographic details along the day/night boundary, or terminator, near the top. These details include numerous small pits up to about 0.4 miles (0.7 kilometers) in diameter.”
“The large circular feature, about 4 miles (7 kilometers) across, on the smaller of the two lobes, also appears to be a deep depression. Not clear is whether these pits are impact craters or features resulting from other processes, such as “collapse pits” or the ancient venting of volatile materials.”
Astronomers used computer software to sharpen out the image sent by New Horizons. So far, scientists have outlined a number of pits on the object’s surface, including a relatively deep impression on the left side of the object.
New Horizons snapped its first images of ultima Thule when as it approached the object on New Years Day.
“This new image is starting to reveal differences in the geologic character of the two lobes of Ultima Thule, and is presenting us with new mysteries as well,” said Stern.
“Over the next month, there will be better color and better resolution images that we hope will help unravel the many mysteries of Ultima Thule.”
Scientists have revealed that New Horizons is operating normally and speeding away from the Sun at more than 31,500 miles per hour.
At that distance, a radio signal reaches Earth six hours and nine minutes after leaving the spacecraft.