On Wednesday, NASA revealed the first specific details of the farthest celestial object ever explored by humanity, Ultima Thule, located in the Kuiper belt 6,500 million kilometers from the Sun., after the New Horizons flew over him.
Prior to this mission, a team led by scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute considered Ultima Thule to unify two different planetary objects. However, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, Hal Wyverb, said on Wednesday that it was an asteroid
"It's a very common occurrence among the solar celestial solar system's small celestial bodies," Wyver told a press conference after receiving the first signal from the New Horizons after the mission's completion. As he pointed out, this pattern will explain another mystery of this distant celestial body: its variations in brightness.
For his part, Stern clarified at that press conference panchromatic images from a higher resolution "will not arrive by February, approximate". The mission leader took the opportunity to congratulate the work of all members of the New Horizons team, whose task has been described as excellent.
"The New Horizons team seem easy, it's not, this team has passed for three and a half years working hard for this to happen. And from what we see, they got a 100% result, "said Stern, who announced he would start writing the first scientific article on the mission this week.
Ultima Thule, the name that chose the public in a NASA call to name the case known until that time as 2014 MU69, comes from a term of Greek origin used by Roman and medieval geographers to indicate the place "is located outside the famous world".
Although the flight of that rocky asteroid took place at midnight on January 1, at a distance of about 3,500 kilometers from the building, the first sign of the New Horizons arrived at 10.30 am local time (15.30 GMT) on the Deep Space Network, located in Madrid.
This happens because Ultima Thule is 6 hours and 7 light minutes from Earth, as one of the people in charge of this mission explained.
Another goal of this space mission is to determine the duration of the rotation to itself the small asteroid, barely 30 kilometers in diameter.
According to recent findings, scientists believe that the rotation They last between 15 and 30 hours, in the absence of more data to confirm this hypothesis.
Asked if the new horizons met the expectations of the mission, Chief Operating Officer Alice Bowman said that from a navigation point of view, the investigation "did everything it needed".
However, Stern could not confirm with certainty that cameras on the device They were "perfectly focused," although he said he would be known in the coming days.
Once it became official it The new horizons successfully completed the flight, NASA chief Jim Bridgestone celebrated that the US space agency, along with its collaborators in this mission, the Johns Hopkins University and the Southwest Research Institute, "They went back to create history again."
Located Ultima Thule one of the most remote regions of the Solar System, known as the Kuiper belt, in honor of the astronomer who predicted his existence in the fifties, Gerard Kuiper.
The New Horizon ship was a six-month hibernation by June this year, when it continued its journey to this mysterious heavenly object, with a diameter of just 30 kilometers.
Scientists and astronomers in charge of this mission hope that the information collected by New Horizons will help to better understand the formation of the solar system and how the planets are built.