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Holy planet, Batman! Ultima Thule is not a snowman – it's a friggin 'pancake



The latest data, which separates itself from distant New Horizons, reveals that there are odd things

Ultima Thule

Side Module 2014 MU69. Credit: NASA's Applied Physics Laboratory / Johns Hopkins / Southwest Research Institute

NASA The new Horizons probe mission once again gave the Boffins something exciting to think about. New data sent back to Earth meant they would have to redesign our understanding of 2014 MU69 (aka Ultima Thule).

Previously, it could well be called Frosty a snowman, as the boffins speculated that the body was made up of two rough balls. With the latest data, estimates are based on what they thought they knew they had disappeared.

It's more like Peter the Pancake. Or Sally Skipping-Stone.

The team brought together 14 pictures taken 10 minutes after New Horizons were closest to the body. By combining the snapshots and viewing the stars covered with the Kuiper Belt (KBO) object as New Horizons, they managed to overcome the past, scientists were able to trace the outline of MU69 2014.

The "Ultima", the larger of the two lobes, actually resembles one of the overflowing palaces, while the smaller lobe (nicknamed "Thule") looks like a disappointed deflated party balloon (or "decorated walnut", according to scientists).

The discovery of MU69 is a much more sophisticated dimension of scarring scientists on how the shape of the thing fits into contemporary thinking about planetary formation. Hal Weaver, New Horizons project scientist from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, said: "This undoubtedly motivates new theories of planetary formation in the early solar system."

2014 MU69 is a monument to the formation of the solar system. After January 1, Jeff Moore, Head of the New Horizons Geology and Geophysics team, asked KBO:

"We see the physical representation of the beginning of the planetary formation, frozen in time." New images, taken when New Horizons was nearly 9,000 km from Ultima Thule, will give the Moore a lot of chewing.

The pictures also provide a preview of the difficulties the team faces when it gets enough light into the probe's cameras so far. The relatively long exposure time has been used to maximize the camera signal level to the detriment of some KBO moon blur. Image processing has seen a spike magnification and a short animation that has shown that MU69 is much flatter than thought. ®


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