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Old 01-25-2019, 09:13 AM   #721
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This image, taken during the historic Jan. 1 flyby of what's informally known as Ultima Thule, is the clearest view yet of this remarkable, ancient object in the far reaches of the solar system – and the first small "KBO" ever explored by a spacecraft.
Obtained with the wide-angle Multicolor Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) component of New Horizons' Ralph instrument, this image was taken when the KBO was 4,200 miles (6,700 kilometers) from the spacecraft, at 05:26 UT (12:26 a.m. EST) on Jan. 1 – just seven minutes before closest approach. With an original resolution of 440 feet (135 meters) per pixel, the image was stored in the spacecraft's data memory and transmitted to Earth on Jan. 18-19. Scientists then sharpened the image to enhance fine detail. (This process – known as deconvolution – also amplifies the graininess of the image when viewed at high contrast.)
http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/...?page=20190124
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Old 02-09-2019, 12:47 AM   #722
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JHUAPL: "New Horizons' Evocative Farewell Glance at Ultima Thule: Images Confirm the Kuiper Belt Object's Highly Unusual, Flatter Shape"
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An evocative new image sequence from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft offers a departing view of the Kuiper Belt object (KBO) nicknamed Ultima Thule the target of its New Year's 2019 flyby and the most distant world ever explored.

These aren't the last Ultima Thule images New Horizons will send back to Earth in fact, many more are to come -- but they are the final views New Horizons captured of the KBO (officially named 2014 MU69) as it raced away at over 31,000 miles per hour (50,000 kilometers per hour) on Jan. 1. The images were taken nearly 10 minutes after New Horizons crossed its closest approach point.

"This really is an incredible image sequence, taken by a spacecraft exploring a small world four billion miles away from Earth," said mission Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of Southwest Research Institute. "Nothing quite like this has ever been captured in imagery."

The newly released images also contain important scientific information about the shape of Ultima Thule, which is turning out to be one of the major discoveries from the flyby.

The first close-up images of Ultima Thule with its two distinct and, apparently, spherical segments had observers calling it a "snowman." However, more analysis of approach images and these new departure images have changed that view, in part by revealing an outline of the portion of the KBO that was not illuminated by the Sun, but could be "traced out" as it blocked the view to background stars.

Stringing 14 of these images into a short departure movie, New Horizons scientists can confirm that the two sections (or "lobes") of Ultima Thule are not spherical. The larger lobe, nicknamed "Ultima," more closely resembles a giant pancake and the smaller lobe, nicknamed "Thule," is shaped like a dented walnut.

"We had an impression of Ultima Thule based on the limited number of images returned in the days around the flyby, but seeing more data has significantly changed our view," Stern said. "It would be closer to reality to say Ultima Thule's shape is flatter, like a pancake. But more importantly, the new images are creating scientific puzzles about how such an object could even be formed. We've never seen something like this orbiting the Sun."

The departure images were taken from a different angle than the approach photos and reveal complementary information on Ultima Thule's shape. The central frame of the sequence was taken on Jan. 1 at 05:42:42 UT (12:42 a.m. EST), when New Horizons was 5,494 miles (8,862 kilometers) beyond Ultima Thule, and 4.1 billion miles (6.6 billion kilometers) from Earth. The object's illuminated crescent is blurred in the individual frames because a relatively long exposure time was used during this rapid scan to boost the camera's signal level but the science team combined and processed the images to remove the blurring and sharpen the thin crescent.

Many background stars are also seen in the individual images; watching which stars "blinked out" as the object passed in front them allowed scientists to outline the shape of both lobes, which could then be compared to a model assembled from analyzing pre-flyby images and ground-based telescope observations. "The shape model we have derived from all of the existing Ultima Thule imagery is remarkably consistent with what we have learned from the new crescent images," says Simon Porter, a New Horizons co-investigator from the Southwest Research Institute, who leads the shape-modeling effort.

"While the very nature of a fast flyby in some ways limits how well we can determine the true shape of Ultima Thule, the new results clearly show that Ultima and Thule are much flatter than originally believed, and much flatter than expected," added Hal Weaver, New Horizons project scientist from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. "This will undoubtedly motivate new theories of planetesimal formation in the early solar system."

The images in this sequence will be available on the New Horizons LORRI website this week. Raw images from the camera are posted to the site each Friday.
New Horizons took this image of the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 (nicknamed Ultima Thule) on Jan. 1, 2019, when the NASA spacecraft was 5,494 miles (8,862 kilometers) beyond it. The image to the left is an "average" of ten images taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI); the crescent is blurred in the raw frames because a relatively long exposure time was used during this rapid scan to boost the cameras si'gnal level. Mission scientists have been able to process the image, removing the motion blur to produce a sharper, brighter view of Ultima Thule's thin crescent.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Scientists' understanding of Ultima Thule has changed as they review additional data. The "old view" in this illustration is based on images taken within a day of New Horizons' closest approach to the Kuiper Belt object on Jan. 1, 2019, suggesting that both of "Ultima" (the larger section, or lobe) and "Thule" (the smaller) were nearly perfect spheres just barely touching each other.
But as more data were analyzed, including several highly evocative crescent images taken nearly 10 minutes after closest approach, a "new view" of the object's shape emerged. Ultima more closely resembles a "pancake," and Thule a "dented walnut."
The bottom view is the team's current best shape model for Ultima Thule, but still carries some uncertainty as an entire region was essentially hidden from view, and not illuminated by the Sun, during the New Horizons flyby. The dashed blue lines span the uncertainty in that hemisphere, which shows that Ultima Thule could be either flatter than, or not as flat as, depicted in this figure.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Last edited by Unstung; 02-09-2019 at 12:51 AM.
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Old 02-10-2019, 12:18 PM   #723
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Nasa's New Horizons: 'Space snowman' appears squashed
By Jonathan Amos
BBC Science Correspondent
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47187733
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Old 02-23-2019, 09:10 AM   #724
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February 22, 2019
Spot On!
New Horizons Spacecraft Returns Its Sharpest Views of Ultima Thule

Highest Resolution Image of Ultima Thule
The most detailed images of Ultima Thule -- obtained just minutes before the spacecraft's closest approach at 12:33 a.m. EST on Jan. 1 -- have a resolution of about 110 feet (33 meters) per pixel. Their combination of higher spatial resolution and a favorable viewing geometry offer an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the surface of Ultima Thule, believed to be the most primitive object ever encountered by a spacecraft.
This processed, composite picture combines nine individual images taken with the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), each with an exposure time of 0.025 seconds, just 6 minutes before the spacecraft's closest approach to Ultima Thule (officially named 2014 MU69). The image was taken at 5:26 UT (12:26 a.m. EST) on Jan. 1, 2019, when the spacecraft was 4,109 miles (6,628 kilometers) from Ultima Thule and 4.1 billion miles (6.6 billion kilometers) from Earth. The angle between the spacecraft, Ultima Thule and the Sun – known as the "phase angle" – was 33 degrees.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute, National Optical Astronomy Observatory
The mission team called it a "stretch goal" – just before closest approach, precisely point the cameras on NASA's New Horizons spacecraft to snap the sharpest possible pics of the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule, its New Year's flyby target and the farthest object ever explored.
http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/...?page=20190222
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Old 03-07-2019, 05:08 PM   #725
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March 7, 2019
Ultima Thule in 3D
New Horizons Team Uses Stereo Imaging to Examine Kuiper Belt Object's Features
Cross your eyes and break out the 3D glasses! NASA's New Horizons team has created new stereo views of the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule – the target of the New Horizons spacecraft's historic New Year's 2019 flyby, four billion miles from Earth – and the images are as cool and captivating as they are scientifically valuable.
http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/...?page=20190307
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Old 05-17-2019, 08:07 AM   #726
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May 16, 2019
NASA's New Horizons Team Publishes First Kuiper Belt Flyby Science Results
Most distant object ever explored presents mysteries of its formation

Total Teamwork
Aside from the scientific results it contains, the New Horizons Science paper summarizing early findings from the flyby of Ultima Thule is noteworthy for another reason: it has more than 200 co-authors, representing more than 40 institutions. Principal Investigator Alan Stern, as mission head and lead author, thought it important to give authorship to the full range of team members who had role on the successful flyby. As a result, Stern's paper includes authors from the science, spacecraft, operations, mission design, management and communications teams, as well as collaborators, such as contributing scientist and stereo imaging specialist (and legendary Queen guitarist) Brian May, NASA Planetary Division Director Lori Glaze, NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green, and NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen.
Image Credit: AAAS/Science
NASA's New Horizons mission team has published the first profile of the farthest world ever explored, a planetary building block and Kuiper Belt object called 2014 MU69.
Analyzing just the first sets of data gathered during the New Horizons spacecraft's New Year's 2019 flyby of MU69 (nicknamed Ultima Thule) the mission team quickly discovered an object far more complex than expected. The team publishes the first peer-reviewed scientific results and interpretations just four months after the flyby in the May 17 issue of the journal Science.
http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/...?page=20190516
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Old 05-24-2019, 01:36 PM   #727
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May 23, 2019
The PI's Perspective: We Made the Cover of the 'Rolling Stone' (for Nerds)!

The first published results from New Horizons' flyby of 2014 MU69 appeared May 17 in the journal Science. Image credit: AAAS/Science
The New Horizons spacecraft and its seven scientific instruments are performing well, with no problems. New Horizons is now more than 100 million miles past our first KBO flyby target, 2014 MU69 (nicknamed Ultima Thule, or UT), and plowing deeper into the Kuiper Belt every day. Estimates are that we won't leave the Kuiper Belt for eight more years.
Meanwhile, after almost four months of intensive data downlink to Earth, about 25% of all the bits collected during the flyby are now on the ground. More data comes back every week.
http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/...ive_05_23_2019
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