If you are anything like me, you were probably a bit disappointed when you noticed the first images of an object on the Kuiper MU69 belt. Sure, we can make a snowshoe shape, but it also looked like something shot with a smartphone from moving a car.
Well, that's not far, because the spaceship "New Horizons" photographed thousands of miles away, and the speed ranged from 31,500 miles per hour. But we could not get the pictures right away, because for a six-hour signal we should travel about 4 billion miles from the craft on Earth – and there is a lot of data to transmit. But scientists behind the mission now presented the latest and clearest photos of the building.
New horizons began in 2006 with Pluto as its first target. After returning photos and tons of data to the most famous object on the Kuiper belt, the team set out to look at the next rock to encounter a probe, an object dubbed 31.7 kilometers (19.7 miles), formally called (486958) 2014 MU69, nicknamed Ultima Thule. That flying happened to be fantastic in the past New Year's Eve.
The latest photo comes from 12:26 EST on January 1, seven minutes before the closest approach to New Horizon. It shows the two-sided structure of the object, deep depression of the smaller lobe, dark and light features and a bright white color in which the two lobes are attached. It is unclear whether depression is a crater of blows or any other geological process. Scientists are also not sure what causes a color difference.
The new horizons continue to send the MU69 data, which, I hope, will reveal more about its composition and formation – and how it got its peculiar, snowy form. In the meantime, you can still view the raw files.