Methanol, water ice, and organic molecules is found on Ultima Thules surface
New Horizons mission team has found evidence for a unique mixture of methanol, water ice, and organic molecules on Ultima Thule’s surface which is the farthest world ever explored by mankind.
The U.S. space agency has published the first profile of Ultima Thule, an ancient relic from the era of planet formation, revealing details about the complex space object.
The researchers analyzed the first sets of data collected during the New Horizons spacecraft’s New Year’s 2019 flyby of the Kuiper Belt object called 2014 MU69, also known as Ultima Thule.
Scientists discovered that Ultima Thule wasn’t any space object, instead, its composition, development, and geology were more complex than expected.
Data transmission from the flyby will continue until late summer 2020 and until then, New Horizons will continue to take new observations of additional Kuiper Belt objects.
Ultima Thule is a contact binary, because it has two differently-shaped lobes.
It’s about 22 miles long and consists of a large, weirdly flat lobe (Ultima) that’s connected to a small, slightly rounder lobe (Thule), at a juncture dubbed the neck.
It features bright spots, hills, craters, and pits.
The biggest depression on Ultima Thule is five miles in diameter and it is nicknamed as the Maryland crater, which could have been created from an impact event.
Some smaller pits on Ultima Thule though might have developed by material falling into underground spaces.
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