New Horizons visits Ultima Thule

Sydde

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The spacecraft that gave us the great pictures of Pluto has just passed its next target (about an hour and a half ago). It is 12 light-hours away and transmits very, very slowly (in not-even-K bps), so some time Tuesday afternoon we might get some vague images or other info. Unless, of course, it ran into something.
 

Scepticalscribe

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The Far Horizon
The spacecraft that gave us the great pictures of Pluto has just passed its next target (about an hour and a half ago). It is 12 light-hours away and transmits very, very slowly (in not-even-K bps), so some time Tuesday afternoon we might get some vague images or other info. Unless, of course, it ran into something.
4 billion miles away from Earth. It will take 2 years to beam back all of the data.
I have been reading about this today, avidly, and with absorbed and fascinated interest.

This is an amazing - an awesome - story.
 

chown33

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It appears that we have confirmation of the encounter and the lack of slamming into anything.
Reminds me of someone I was at school with who was a horrible driver. His retort was always, "You lived to complain about it, didn't you?".
 

obeygiant

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It appears to be a “contact binary”: two rocks fused together.


Vox link
This initial look at Ultima Thule was taken from a distance of about 30,000 miles, when the spacecraft was zooming toward the small, distant world. At the moment of closest approach, New Horizons came within 2,200 miles of the surface.

“Everything we are telling you is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “Far less than 1% of the data is already down on the ground.”

The new images revealed that Ultima Thule’s topography rises and falls by about a mile in height, but whether those differences in elevation are due to craters or mountains and hills is still to be determined. Future images taken from different angles will allow scientists to analyze the shadows falling on Ultima Thule’s surface, which may help answer those questions.

Scientists will also look for opportunities to peer into the planetesimal’s interior and search for signs of layering, or regions with different chemical compositions.

And they’ll hunt for evidence of small moons or satellites orbiting Ultima Thule, which could help them determine its mass.

“It’s just going to get better and better,” Stern said.
Its amazing after 4 billion miles they can miss this rock by 2200 miles. Current speed of NH is about 16.6 kilometers per second. That's difficult to comprehend. Light speed is 299792 km/s

They say it'll take almost 2 years to relay all the data. This download is expected to take 20 months at a data rate of 1-2 kilobits per second
 
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Sydde

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This thing is something like twenty miles long and ten miles across the wide end, and we spotted it from over four billion miles away, in the star-laced night. That is freaking amazing.
 

chown33

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Its amazing after 4 billion miles they can miss this rock by 2200 miles. Current speed of NH is about 16.6 kilometers per second. That's difficult to comprehend. Light speed is 299792 km/s
I just watched a Nova episode (Pluto and Beyond) and there was a scene that showed the correction being done as the probe approached. There was a yellow (?) cross on the image that showed the predicted center, and a blue-green cross that showed the actual center. Since there was a difference, they knew they needed to correct the trajectory, and by how much.

It's a good Nova episode, well worth watching. Here's one version of it, I'm sure you can find others:
https://www.thirteen.org/programs/nova/pluto-and-beyond-gwcrnv/
 

Sydde

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Sad news: “Data transmission from New Horizons will pause for about a week while the spacecraft passes behind the sun as seen from here on Earth. Data transmission resumes Jan. 10, starting a 20-month download of the spacecraft's remaining scientific treasures.” Well, ok, not really sad, as such, but, argh, "The waiting is the hardest part ..."
 
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Sydde

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Approach animation from recently received earlier images.

It looks like NASA is working hard to collect the data at a time when their department is not receiving much in the way of government support. Hope they can keep it going.
 

Sydde

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It seems as though Ultima Thule May be even stranger than we thought
After analyzing these new images, scientists say the larger lobe more closely resembles a large pancake, and the smaller lobe looks a bit like a walnut. The new photos reveal a dramatically different object because they were taken from a different angle than the images that were downloaded first.
 
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chown33

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It seems as though Ultima Thule May be even stranger than we thought
After analyzing these new images, scientists say the larger lobe more closely resembles a large pancake, and the smaller lobe looks a bit like a walnut. The new photos reveal a dramatically different object because they were taken from a different angle than the images that were downloaded first.
Looks like the disc slipped off the turtle's back, and is now abreast instead of atop.
I'm not sure where the elephants went.
 

Sydde

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There seems to be an issue with the name "Thule", so its official name is now "Arrokoth", which a NA word that means "sky".
 
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obeygiant

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There seems to be an issue with the name "Thule", so its official name is now "Arrokoth", which a NA word that means "sky".

Arrokoth (pronounced AR-uh-koth), a flattened two-lobed body in the Kuiper Belt of icy worlds beyond Neptune, has been through a couple of names already. Up until now, its official designation had been 2014 MU69. In March 2018, the team landed on the nickname Ultima Thule, a Latin phrase that signifies a place beyond the known world.

“[Ultima Thule] was, as we said, always a placeholder we would discard once we did the flyby,” Stern says. That moniker came under almost immediate criticism after Newsweek noted that the phrase had also been appropriated by the Nazis as the mythical homeland of the Aryan race.

The New Horizons spacecraft — originally sent to check out Pluto and its retinue of moons (SN: 7/26/15) — is still transmitting data from its January 1 flyby of Arrokoth (SN: 1/2/19) and will continue to do so for at least another year, Stern says. By then, the team will have begun hunting for a possible third target, a search they can’t start until Earth gets to the other side of the sun next summer and New Horizons once again becomes visible at night to telescopes.


Haha I had no idea
 
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chown33

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Considering what it looks like, they should employ the traditional childhood decision algorithm, and call it "two potato".

I could also get behind "potato pancake".
 
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