Press Trust of IndiaMay 20, 2019 12:03:11 IST
NASA has found evidence of a unique blend of methanol, ice water and organic molecules on the surface of Ultima Thule–the most distant world ever explored by humanity.
The US space agency has published the first profile of Ultima Thule–an ancient relic of the era of the formation of the planet–revealing details about the complex spatial object.
Analyze only the first sets of data collected during the 2019 New Year flyover by the New Horizons spacecraft with the 2014 MU69 Kuiper Belt object–nicknamed Ultima Thule–reveal a lot about the development of the object, geology and composition.
Researchers are also studying a range of surface features on Ultima Thule, such as light points and patches, hills and valleys, as well as craters and troughs on Ultima Thule.
The largest depression is a feature eight kilometers wide that the team has dubbed the Maryland crater–which probably formed an impact.
Some smaller pits on the subject of the Kuiper belt, however, may have been created by materials falling into underground spaces or by exotic ice passing from a solid to a gas and leaving pits at the place.
Ultima Thule looks like many other objects found in its Kuiper belt area by its color and composition. It is thought that its reddish hue is caused by the modification of organic materials on its surface.
According to research published in the journal Science, the team found evidence of methanol, water ice and organic molecules on the surface of Ultima Thule.–a very different mix of most of the iced objects previously explored by spaceships.
"We are looking at the well-preserved remains of the ancient past," said Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
"There is no doubt that the discoveries made on Ultima Thule will advance the theories of solar system formation," said Stern, the principal investigator of the New Horizons mission.
Ultima Thule is a binary contact, with two lobes of distinctly different shape, said NASA.
Ultima Thule is approximately 36 km long and consists of a large, strangely flat lobe.–nicknamed "Ultima"–connected to a smaller lobe, a little rounder–nicknamed "Thule"–at one point.
The way the two lobes took their unusual form is an unplanned mystery that is probably related to the way they formed billions of years ago, NASA said in a statement.
The lobes probably orbited once until some process brought them together in what the scientists showed to be a "soft" fusion.
For this to happen, the bulk of the binary orbital momentum must be dissipated for the objects to meet, but scientists still do not know if this was due to the aerodynamic forces of the gases. in the old solar nebula, or if Ultima and Thule ejected from other lobes the one formed with them to dissipate the energy and shrink their orbit. The alignment of the Ultima and Thule axes indicates that prior to melting, the two lobes had to be locked, which meant that the same sides were still facing each other when the two lobes were locked. they revolved around the same point.
Data transmission from overflight is continuing and will continue until the end of the summer of 2020. In the meantime, New Horizons continues to make new observations of new Kuiper Belt objects that She passes far away.
The New Horizons satellite is 6.6 billion kilometers from Earth, operating normally and sinking deeper into the Kuiper belt at nearly 53,000 kilometers per hour.
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