UPDATE: PRESS RELEASE
Latest images from New Horizon spacecraft (screen shot from press conference 1/2/19):
|The first clear image of the object nicknamed Ultima Thule, beamed back after the New Horizons spacecraft's flyby on Jan. 1.JHUAPL/NAS|
|The first color image of Ultima Thule, taken at a distance of 85,000 miles (137,000 kilometers) at 4:08 Universal Time on January 1, 2019, highlights its reddish surface. At left is an enhanced color image taken by the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC), produced by combining the near infrared, red and blue channels. The center image taken by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) has a higher spatial resolution than MVIC by approximately a factor of five. At right, the color has been overlaid onto the LORRI image to show the color uniformity of the Ultima and Thule lobes. Note the reduced red coloring at the neck of the object. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute|
The BEST is yet to come as these pics were taken BEFORE closest approach. There will be hundreds of pics and data that will take until 9/20 to download back to Earth.
The amazing thing to realize is that we are looking at a primitive solar system body that in all probability has not been changed since it took this form. This could be the way the solar system formed planets by ever larger bodies colliding to build ever larger bodies.
Ultima Thule is a contact binary where it appears that two smaller bodies joined together.
The color is also reminiscent of the color of Pluto's biggest moon Charon at its North Pole.
ULTIMA THULE rotates about once in 15 hours and its pole is almost directly pointed at Earth.
This is just amazing and will add so much to our knowledge of the solar system and planet formation.
Sky Guy in VA
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