News That Matters

Tag: NASA&#039s

Nasa's New Horizons: 'Space snowman' appears squashed

Nasa's New Horizons: 'Space snowman' appears squashed

Science
It seems the "space snowman" is more like a "gingerbread man".Scientists studying the distant object known as Ultima Thule are revising ideas about its shape after examining the latest images downlinked to Earth.The pictures, taken by the New Horizons probe on 1 January, show the apparently bulbous body to be quite flat.This interpretation is evident from the data acquired by the Nasa spacecraft when it looked back at icy Ultima Thule as it zoomed past at 50,000km/h.The small world appears dark apart from a crescent of sunlight along its limb. But scientists can tell from the way background stars blink on and off where its edges are.Rather than being two relatively spherical bodies in contact with each other, Ultima Thule in this...
Nasa's New Horizons: Best image yet of 'space snowman' Ultima Thule

Nasa's New Horizons: Best image yet of 'space snowman' Ultima Thule

Science
The New Horizons probe has sent back its best picture yet of the small, icy object Ultima Thule, which it flew past on New Year's Day.The image was acquired when the Nasa spacecraft was just 6,700km from its target, which scientists think is two bodies lightly fused together - giving the look of a snowman.Surface details are now much clearer. New Horizons' data is coming back very slowly, over the next 20 months.This is partly to do with the great distance involved (the separation is 6.5 billion km) but is also limited by the small power output of the probe's transmitter and the size (and availability) of the receive antennas here on Earth. It all makes for glacial bit rates.The new image was obtained with New Horizons' ...
NASA's New Horizons shares clearest image yet of Ultima Thule

NASA's New Horizons shares clearest image yet of Ultima Thule

Science
Jan. 25 (UPI) -- NASA has released the most high-resolution image of Ultima Thule captured by the space agency's New Horizons probe. The image was taken on Jan. 1, but scientists working on the mission only recently processed the photograph. The newly released photo was taken using New Horizon's Multicolor Visible Imaging Camera just before the probe reached its closest approach with the Kuiper belt object. Back on Earth, scientists used an image processing technique called deconvolution to make the photo even clearer. Early this month, scientists confirmed that Ultima Thule is a contact binary, a snowman-shaped amalgamation of two spheres. The duo likely came together and fused several hundred million years ago. Thanks to the new image and image processing, scientists are getting a close...
Nasa's New Horizons: Final commands given to distant probe

Nasa's New Horizons: Final commands given to distant probe

Science
Controllers have sent Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft a final set of commands ahead of its historic flyby of a distant icy world on Tuesday. The probe's pass of the 30km-wide object known as Ultima Thule will set a new record for the farthest ever exploration of a Solar System body - at 6.5 billion km from Earth.The upload included a two-second timing correction that ensures New Horizons knows precisely when and where to point its cameras as it sweeps alongside its target at a breathtaking 14km/s."The spacecraft is healthy and we're excited!" said mission operations manager Alice Bowman when she briefed reporters at the control centre embedded in the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (JHU-APL) in Maryland. ...
Nasa's New Horizons probe on course for historic flyby

Nasa's New Horizons probe on course for historic flyby

Science
The American space agency's New Horizons probe remains on course for its daring flyby of Ultima Thule. When the mission sweeps past the 30km wide object on New Year's Day, it will be making the most distant ever visit to a Solar System body - at some 6.5 billion km from Earth. Mission planners decided at the weekend to forego a possible trajectory change.It means the probe will get to fly 3,500km from icy Ultima's surface to take a series of photos and other data. There had been some concern that the object might be surrounded by large debris particles which could destroy the probe if it were to run into them. But nothing of the sort has been detected and so a wider, safer pass will not be needed. ...