NASA's New Horizons spacecraft received a composite image of a remote object 2014 MU69 (Ultima Thule) on December 2, 2018, at a distance of 38.7 million km. On the right, expanded the area inside the yellow frame and removed the background stars.
NASA's New Horizon spacecraft has sent a new composite photo of a distant icy celestial body, which will be approached in 3 weeks. A small Ultima Thule object swims among the sea of distant stars in a new photo taken by the LORRI camera on December 2.
At the time of the shooting, the device was 38.7 km away from the object and 6.4 billion km away from the Earth. As the target approaches, the images become brighter in the LORRI optical and navigation images. New Horizons got the picture 33 hours before it started the engine to clarify the course for Ultima Thule. The firing (the most distant in the history of space research) lasted 105 seconds and changed the speed of movement to 3.5 km / h. The probe continues to move to reach a distance from Ultima Thule of 3,500 km on January 1, 2019. This is 3 times closer than the passage of New Horizons past Pluto on July 14, 2015. Rapprochement then showed that Pluto is a complex world with a tremendous variety of landscapes, from high icy mountains to giant nitrogen-ice plains.
The encounter with Ultima Thule, located 1.6 billion kilometers farther from Pluto, should be similar. Astronomers believe that the object is stretched wide by 37 km, but there is still very little information. It is even unclear whether this is a single body or a rotating pair. The New Horizons apparatus started in 2006 in order to get the first close view of Pluto. Approaching Ultima Thule is part of an extended probe mission.