Probe sends first glimpse of distant icy world

Ultima Thule views

The left image shows a raw, pixel-by-pixel view of an icy object known as Ultima Thule, as captured by NASA’s New Horizons probe at 11:56 a.m. ET Dec. 30 from a distance of 1.2 million miles. (JHUAPL / SwRI / NASA via YouTube)

LAUREL, Md. — The science team for NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft released its first multi-pixel view of an icy world more than 4 billion miles from Earth, and the analysis suggests it’s an elongated space cigar.

“We know it’s not round, we can say that with confidence,” John Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute, one of the mission’s project scientists, said today during a news briefing scheduled just hours before the probe was due to fly just 2,200 miles past the mysterious object.

Based on observations made on Earth during stellar occultations, Spencer and other astronomers suspected that the object — known by its formal designation, 2014 MU69, or by its nickname, Ultima Thule — might be made of smooshed-together chunks of ice and rock.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

About Alan Boyle

Award-winning science writer, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
This entry was posted in GeekWire and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.