Home / Science / NASA finds water and 'organic molecules' on 'farthest world ever explored' Ultima Thule

NASA finds water and 'organic molecules' on 'farthest world ever explored' Ultima Thule



Ultima Thule, the mysterious space rock in the Kuiper Belt, has been found with traces of organic molecules and water on its surface.

Snowman-shaped rock, dubbed the 'farthest world ever explored', is being collected from the New Horizons spacecraft and analyzed by NASA scientists.

The combination of chemicals has been described as very different from

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 Ultima Thule, the mysterious snowman-shaped space rock in the Kuiper Belt, has been found with traces of organic molecules and water on its surface. It is the farthest world ever explored by humans

Ultima Thule, the mysterious snowman-shaped space rock in the Kuiper Belt, has been found with traces of organic molecules and water on its surface. It is the farthest world ever explored by humans.

We're looking into the well-preserved remnants of the ancient past, said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute.

'There is no doubt that the discoveries made about Ultima Thule are going to advance theories of solar system formation. '

The study was published in the journal Science and adds to a growing body of research unpicking the enigmatic world.

Images were taken when the New Horizons spacecraft was just 4,200 miles (6,700 km) away from the target and shows sharper detail of the rock's surface, including several divots.

NASA first captured images of the dual-lobed space rock, located more than a billion miles from Pluto, when it reached it on New Year's day.

 New Horizons has spent more than a decade hurtling through the Solar System since it launched on January 19, 2006 and passed Pluto in 2015. New Horizons is so far adrift of planet Earth now that its messages take up to six hours to reach us, despite them traveling at the speed of light

New Horizons has spent more than a decade hurtling through the Solar System since it launched on January 19, 2006 and passed Pluto in 2015. New Horizons is so far adrift of planet Earth now that its messages take up to six hours to reac h us, despite them traveling at the speed of light

It will beam data back to Earth for the next 20 months to shed light on how the solar system was created.

The project has spent more than a decade hurtling through the Solar System since it launched on January 19, 2006 and passed Pluto in 2015.

'Ultima Thule will be the most primitive planetary object explored, and will reveal what conditions were like this distant part of the solar system as it was formed from the solar nebula, "NASA said.

The probe is powered by a plutonium core and when it reached Pluto its sensors were working so NASA sent the probe on towards Ultima Thule.

Due to its original formation in the dust that also birthed Earth, scientists hope to find out how our planet came to be.

Evidence from the probe led by NASA scientists to believe they have found new evidence of the mysterious 'wall' that surrounds all the planets and objects in our solar system.

This mysterious bubble marks the boundary between the solar system and interstellar space and provides a marker for the edge of the sun's influence.

 The project has spent more than a decade hurtling through the Solar System since it launched on January 19, 2006 and passed Pluto in 2015 (pictured)

2006 and passed Pluto in 2015 (pictured)

According to the latest findings, the barrier is actually a fixed amount of trapped hydrogen atoms caught up in the solar wind of our star.

These produce waves o f ultraviolet light in a very distinctive way, which have been detected by the sensors by the New Horizons interplanetary space probe. [UltimateThuleorbitstheSuninasparselypopulatedandlow-energyenvironmentknownastheKuiperbeltacircumstellardiscintheouterSolarSystemextendingfromtheorbitofNeptune

Because it is so sparsely populated, the chance of a collision with other objects is extremely low, but experts say that it was probably created at the start of the solar system, it would have faced collision with other rocks.

Horizons 'principal investigator Professor Alan Stern said:' Everything that is going to learn about Ultima – from its composition to its geology, how it was originally assembled, whether it has satellites and an atmosphere, and that child of thing – is going to teach us about the original formation conditions in the Solar System that all the other objects have gone out and orbited, flown by and landed on can tell us because they are either large and evolve, or they are warm.

"Ultima is unique."

WHERE IS NEW HORIZONS?

The spacecraft that gave us the first close-up views of Pluto now has a much smaller object in its sights.

New Horizons is now track to fly

The orbits nearly 1 billion miles (19459019) 1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto

Nasa and the New Horizons team chose 2014 MU69 in August as New Horizons' next potential target, thus the nickname PT-1. Like Pluto, MU69 orbits the sun in the frozen, twilight zone known as the Kuiper Belt.

 This illustration provided by NASA shows the New Horizons spacecraft. The probe whipped past Pluto in 2015 and is headed to 2014 MU69 for an attempted 2019 flyby of the tiny, icy world on the edge of the solar system

This illustration provided by NASA shows the New Horizons spacecraft. The probe whipped past Pluto in 2015 and is headed to 2014 MU69 for an attempted 2019 flyby of the tiny, icy world on the edge of the solar system

MU69 is thought to be 10 times larger and 1,000 times more massive than average comets, including the one being orbited right now by Europe's Rosetta spacecraft.

On the other end, MU69 is barely 1 percent the size of Pluto and perhaps one-ten-thousandth the mass of the dwarf planet. So the new target is a good middle ground, according to scientists.

The spacecraft was recently approved for its extended mission, allowing it to continue on its path toward the object deeper in the Kuiper Belt.

It's expected that New Horizons will make its approach to the ancient object on January 1, 2019.


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