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2019-01-01. New Horizons flyby of Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule (2014 MU69).

posted Dec 5, 2018, 12:19 PM by Alan Gould   [ updated Dec 5, 2018, 12:19 PM ]

NASA. [http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/] New Horizons is the superb spacecraft mounted with instruments that gave us all those rich, rich images and data in its flyby of Pluto in July of 2015.  Soon those exquisite instruments can be focused on yet another world in our Solar System, this time a Kuiper Belt object! Ultima is 100 times smaller than Pluto, but was Likely formed 4.5 or 4.6 billion years ago, 4 billion miles from the Sun. It's been at near absolute zero temperature ever since, so it's likely the best sample of the ancient solar nebula ever studied. Will Ultima turn out to be a collection smaller bodies? Will it have an atmosphere? Will it have rings? Will it have moons? Any of that could be possible, and soon we'll know the answers to these questions. Get ready to wish New Year to New Horizons.