Dear MEL Topic Readers,
NASA provides first image from record-setting flyby of Ultima Thule
The Kuiper Belt is a region of leftovers from the solar system's early history. It is a circumstellar disc in the outer Solar System, extending from the orbit of approximately 50 AU from the Sun. (AU: astronomical unit, roughly the distance from Earth to the Sun, about 150 million kilometers)
Launched in this month 13 years ago by NASA, New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe. The spacecraft reached Jupiter in 2007, conducted a reconnaissance flyby study of Pluto and its moons in 2015, and has just reached one of the outermost orbiting objects of our solar system this month, over 6 billion kilometers from the Sun. It had been thought to be an object shaped like a bowling pin and called Ultima until it was found that it is actually an attached two objects by gravity, forming a snowman like shape. The newly named Ultima Thule is thought to be formed about 4.5 billion years ago when the solar planet was born. One researcher calls it as the time machine to time zero as it is one of the first planetesimals or objects that went on to form planets.
Enjoy reading and learn about this outermost extraterrestrial object that orbits the sun like our planet.