Home Lead Story Clearer Image...

Clearer Images Of Ultima Thule By NASA’s New Horizons

With an original resolution of 135 metres per pixel, the image was stored in the spacecraft's data memory and transmitted to Earth on January 18-19. 

0
Pluto, NASA, new horizons
This illustration provided by NASA shows the New Horizons spacecraft. NASA launched the probe in 2006; it’s about the size of a baby grand piano. VOA

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has beamed back the clearest view yet of the most distant object ever explored — the Kuiper Belt object (KBO) 2014 MU69 nicknamed Ultima Thule.

On January 1, the spacecraft zipped past the ancient Ultima Thule, setting the record for flyby of the most distant planetary object in history.

“The new image, taken during the historic flyby is the clearest view yet of this remarkable, ancient object in the far reaches of the solar system – and the first small ‘KBO’ ever explored by a spacecraft,” NASA said in a statement.

The oblique lighting of the image reveals new topographic details — numerous small pits up to about 0.7 km in diameter — along the day or night boundary, or terminator, near the top.

Ultima Thule
The Ultima Thule.

The image also shows large circular feature, about 7 km across, and on the smaller of the two lobes appears as a deep depression.

However, it is not clear whether these pits are impact craters or features resulting from other processes, such as “collapse pits” or the ancient venting of volatile materials, NASA said.

Both lobes also show many intriguing light and dark patterns of unknown origin, which may reveal clues about how this body was assembled during the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago.

One of the most striking of these is the bright “collar” separating the two lobes.

“This new image is starting to reveal differences in the geologic character of the two lobes of Ultima Thule, and is presenting us with new mysteries as well,” said Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

NASA, earth
New Horizons project scientist Hal Weaver, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, speaks about new data received from the New Horizons spacecraft during a press conference after the spacecraft completed a flyby of Ultima Thule, Jan. 1, 2019. VOA

“Over the next month there will be better colour and better resolution images that we hope will help unravel the many mysteries of Ultima Thule,” Stern added.

The image, obtained with the wide-angle Multicolour Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) component of New Horizons’ Ralph instrument, was taken when the KBO was 6,700 km from the spacecraft, at 12.26 a.m. on January 1 — just seven minutes before closest approach.

Also Read: New Horizons Spacecraft by NASA Detects Anomaly Ahead of Next Flyby

With an original resolution of 135 metres per pixel, the image was stored in the spacecraft’s data memory and transmitted to Earth on January 18-19.

New Horizons is approximately 6.64 billion kilometres from Earth, operating normally and speeding away from the Sun (and Ultima Thule) at more than 50,700 km per hour. (IANS)

Next Story

NASA, SpaceX Postpone Historic Astronauts Launch Due to Bad Weather

The launch was delayed due to unfavourable weather in the flight path according to SpaceX

0
astronaut NASA
NASA and SpaceX postponed historic launch of two astronauts to space. Pixabay

NASA and SpaceX postponed historic launch of two astronauts to space from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday due to bad weather.

“Due to the weather conditions, the launch is scrubbing,” NASA tweeted, Xinhua reported.

SpaceX said the launch was delayed due to unfavourable weather in the flight path.

rocket-launch-NASA
The next launch opportunity is scheduled on Saturday, May 30. Pixabay

The next launch opportunity is scheduled on Saturday, May 30.

Also Read: Article 30 Has Harmed the Constitutional Equality of Citizens: Vijayvargiya

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry the Crew Dragon spacecraft and veteran NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS).

It will be the first time since 2011 that American astronauts launch on an American rocket from American soil to the ISS. (IANS)

Next Story

Moon Mission: NASA Seeking Healthy US Citizens For 8-Month Isolation

NASA is looking for candidates between the ages of 30 and 55

0
NASA
NASA is looking for healthy individuals for their study on isolation for 8 months. Pixabay

NASA is seeking US citizens for an eight-month study on social isolation in preparation for missions to Mars and the moon.

The international space agency is preparing for its next spaceflight simulation study and is seeking healthy participants to live together with a small crew in isolation for eight months in Moscow, Russia.

Participants will be staying in a lab located in Moscow, and they will experience environmental aspects similar to those astronauts are expected to experience on future missions to Mars that will have crew members from different nations.

NASA is looking for highly motivated and healthy individuals between the ages of 30 and 55 who are fluent in both English and Russian. They must also have an MS., PhD, MD. or have completed military officer training.

The space agency will consider other participants with a bachelor’s degree and other qualifications such as military or professional experience.

They will study the psychological and physiological effects astronauts are likely to face as a result of isolation on long missions.

astronaut NASA
NASA is also looking for people who are fluent in both English and Russian. Pixabay

According to NASA, participants will experience environmental aspects similar to those astronauts are expected to experience on future missions to Mars.

A small international crew will live together in isolation for eight months conducting scientific research, using virtual reality and performing robotic operations among a number of other tasks during the lunar mission.

The research is being done to study the effects of isolation and confinement as participants work to complete simulated space missions.

Also Read: Back to the Soil With Organic Farming

Results from ground-based missions like this help NASA prepare for the real-life challenges of space exploration and provide important scientific data to solve some of these problems and to develop countermeasures.

Participants will be compensated, and there are varying levels of pay depending on whether you’re associated with NASA.

This study builds on a four-month study conducted in 2019. The SIRIUS-19 analog mission had six participants — two US citizens and four Russians — isolated in a metal habitat that acted as their spacecraft, lunar lander and home. (IANS)

Next Story

Scientists to Probe Jupiter’s Violent Storms, Lightning Strikes

Scientists from various organisations probe Jupiter's violent Storms and lightning strikes

0
Jupiter
Scientists to probe Jupiter's violent storms and lightning strikes. Pixabay

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the ground-based Gemini Observatory in Hawaii have teamed up with the Juno spacecraft to probe the mightiest storms on the giant planet Jupiter.

The images, part of a multi-year joint programme, revealed that lightning strikes, and some of the largest storm systems that create them, are formed in and around large convective cells over deep clouds of water ice and liquid.

The new observations also confirm that dark spots in the famous Great Red Spot are actually gaps in the cloud cover and not due to cloud colour variations.

Three years of imaging observations using the international Gemini Observatory have probed deep into Jupiter’s cloud tops. The ultra-sharp Gemini infrared images complement optical and ultraviolet observations by Hubble and radio observations by the Juno spacecraft to reveal new secrets about the giant planet.

“The Gemini data were critical because they allowed us to probe deeply into Jupiter’s clouds on a regular schedule,” said Michael Wong of University of California, Berkeley.

Jupiter
Scientists to probe Jupiter’s violent storms and lightning strikes. Pixabay

“We used a very powerful technique called lucky imaging,” added Wong.

With lucky imaging, a large number of very short exposure images are obtained and only the sharpest images, when the Earth’s atmosphere is briefly stable, are used. The result in this case is some of the sharpest infrared images of Jupiter ever obtained from the ground.

According to Wong, “These images rival the view from space.”

Gemini North’s Near Infrared Imager (NIRI) allows astronomers to peer deep into Jupiter’s mighty storms, since the longer wavelength infrared light can pass through the thin haze but is obscured by thicker clouds high in Jupiter’s atmosphere.

This creates a “jack-o-lantern”-like effect in the images where the warm, deep layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere glow through gaps in the planet’s thick cloud cover.

Jupiter
Jupiter’s violent storms and lightning strikes to be probed by scientist. Pixabbay

The detailed, multiwavelength imaging of Jupiter by Geminiand Hubble has, over the past three years, proven crucial to contextualizing the observations by the Juno orbiter, and to understanding Jupiter’s wind patterns, atmospheric waves, and cyclones.

The two telescopes, together with Juno, can observe Jupiter’s atmosphere as a system of winds, gases, heat, and weather phenomena, providing coverage and insight not unlike the network of weather satellites meteorologists use to observe Earth.

Because the Hubble and Gemini observations are so important for interpreting Juno data, Wong and his colleagues are making all of the processed data easily accessible to other researchers through the Mikulski Archives for Space Telescopes (MAST) at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

Also Read: Super Raiders Week: Star Sports Plans Delight for Kabaddi Fans

The results were published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. (IANS)