In this early 2019, NASA broke another record with the New Horizons program, approaching the farthest object ever explored by humans, and that is even beyond Pluto. This celestial body is 6,500 million kilometers from Earth.
This is the Ultima Thule, an asteroid of 35 kilometers (15 miles) at 15 kilometers, the name chosen by the public at the North American Space Agency, calling it the building known as that time as 2014 MU69, revealed that year from the Hubble Space Telescope.
The first pictures, in black and white, allow us to notice that the asteroid rotates (we still do not know at what speed) and that its axis of rotation looks to the Earth. Everything shows that there could be a shape similar to that of a snowman, but it can not yet be ruled out that it is two objects that orbit together. Ultima Thule It is characterized by the presence of frost and conditions that remained unchanged from the birth of the Solar System, 4,500 million years ago.
"The probe is in perfect condition. We got the longest flight"said Alice Bowman, head of mission operations, among applause and exclamations of joy at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University (USA), where the control center is." Now scientific data will begin to arrive to understand the origin of our solar system, "he added.
Between applause and exclamations of joy at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University (USA), where the control center is.
According to NASA, the New Horizons probe, which has already examined Pluto in 2015, shoots high resolution Ultima Tula photographs, 72 hours and 3,500 kilometers, to recognize its surface and composition and to find out if there is an atmosphere or other celestial bodies around .
The best images taken from the ship have not yet been discovered – some are expected in the last minute of today – because the signals last six hours to reach Earth and travel only one kilobytars per second. That's why the high-resolution photos will take months to arrive.
"The new horizons behaved as expected, making the most remote research in the whole history ", said Alan Stern, principal mission researcher and scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado (USA). "The data we have seen so far is fantastic and we are already learning about Ultima Tule."
The latest Thule, the KBO (object on the Kuipero Belt) object that tracks NASA's New Horizons, appears to have a peanut-like shape.
Ultima Thule is located in one of the most remote regions of the Solar System, known as the Kuiper belt, in honor of the astronomer who predicted its existence in the fifties, Gerard Kuiper.
The New Horizons probe was launched in 2006. In 2015 he flew over Pluto, the dwarf planet, and discovered the complex geology of this world. Now it is predicted that the ship will pass for 20 months by taking captured data when passing by the proximity of Ultima Thule. His energy will allow him to function by the mid-thirties, so he may be able to investigate another object in the Kuiper belt.
The Queen's guitarist, British Brian May, has just released his first solo song for 20 years, dubbed "New Horizons (Ultima Thule Mix)", respecting NASA's eponymous mission.
Brian May announced his first solo song for 20 years, called "Ultima Thule Mix", in honor of NASA's recent mission.
It's a song of just over 4 minutes, making it a clear musical reference for the band's most gigantic rock-age that it shared with Freddie Mercury during the 70's and 80's. The texts refer to the scientific and technological progress and the opening of humanity to "new horizons", as the title of the poem is translated into the space research.
The video accompanying the music piece mixes animation and shootings of space ships with images of celestial bodies and the universe. In addition to being one of the most recognizable guitarists in rock history, May holds a doctorate in astrophysics and is an eminent person in the academic world.