The New Horizons probe arrives to the most distant object of Solar System and makes a fly-by.
The closest approach between the probe and the asteroid occurred at 05:33 GMT. According to NASA calculations, the lowest distance between the probe and the asteroid at that time was only 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles).
Earlier, mission supervisor Alan Stern reported that on the cameras installed on the device, the asteroid will be the same size as the full moon viewed from Earth. In this case, the probe will literally sweep past Ultima Thule at a speed of 32,000 miles per hour (51,000 kilometers per hour or about 14.6 kilometers per second).
Asteroid 2014 MU69 was discovered via the Hubble orbital telescope back in 2014. In March 2018, NASA called it Ultima Thule, which means “The Edge of the World,” on the basis of Internet voting. As noted by NASA, until now, researchers know very little about this space body, so they expect to learn more as a result of data obtained during the convergence.
This is the probe’s trajectory. Source: John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
The New Horizons probe was launched in January 19, 2006 and passed by Pluto in July 14, 2015.
Some facts about Ultima Thule
- This object orbits 1.6 billions kilometers beyond Pluto;
- It is the furthest object of Kuiper belt;
- Ultima Thule can be a binary system or have many objects;
- Some researchers believe that the study of this asteroid can help to understand the Solar System’s formation.