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Astro Bob

Ultima Thule — A Little Closer Now

27 Jan 2019, 17:11 UTC
Ultima Thule — A Little Closer Now
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This image, taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft during the historic Jan. 1 flyby reveals small and large depressions in twin-lobed Ultima Thule. The icy object is about 19 miles long (31 km) and located a billion miles beyond Pluto in the icy asteroid belt called the Kuiper Belt. NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Clearer and clearer, bit by bit. This latest photo of 2014 MU69 , better known by its informal name, Ultima Thule, is the clearest view yet of the icy asteroid. New Horizons took the photo from a distance of 4,200 miles (6,700 km) just 7 minutes before closest approach on Jan. 1. Earlier photos of the asteroid were taken with the sun at the spacecraft’s back, so the asteroid was lit like a full moon without shadow detail. The lighting here is more oblique so we can start to see details along the day-night boundary called the terminator, located near the top.
Want to see a terminator? Just look at the moon. The terminator divides the day-lit part of the moon from the night. Because the sun is rising or setting at the terminator, features cast long shadows and reveal lots of fine details compared to fully-lit parts of the ...

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