The rendezvous between the New Horizons probe and the distant object known as Ultima Thule was an historic moment, but after the mind-blowing imagery the craft sent back from Pluto, you could be forgiven for being a little disappointed in how indistinct the early imagery was. Those concerns should be partly alleviated by the latest image from the probe, which shows the rocky world in considerably greater detail.
It’s still not exactly poster quality, but remember, this is being beamed back bit by bit from four billion miles away. And it isn’t just sending the best stuff, but a huge series of images it took during the brief flyby on January 1. Not only that, but there are multiple imagers and instruments whose information must be collated and adjusted for human viewing.
In this case the image was taken by the Multicolor Visible Imaging Camera, or MVIC; the previous ones were taken with LORRI, a long-range reconnaissance camera. It was taken from a distance of about 4,200 miles away, just a minutes before the probe’s closest approach.
The lighting is fortuitous, and helps show off the topography of Ultima Thule, or 2014 MU69, as it was previously known. To give you a sense of scale, the big concavity in what you might call the head of the snowman is about 4 miles across. The team writes in a blog post:
Not clear is whether these pits are impact craters or features resulting from other processes, such as “collapse pits” or the ancient venting of volatile materials.
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.
Principal Investigator of the New Horizons mission Alan Stern, whom I spoke with about the flyby and other topics some months before New Year’s, says in the same post that we have even more to look forward to:
“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. Over the next month there will be better color and better resolution images that we hope will help unravel the many mysteries of Ultima Thule.”
Hubble Snaps Stunning Pictures Of Colliding Galaxies
In its latest exploratory hunt covering the Arp-Madore territory, the Hubble telescope found something remarkable in the Arp-Madore 417-391 collision event. What is truly noteworthy is the intensity of the galactic interaction and the strong gravitational forces at play here. The pair of galaxies have contorted each other, a forming a ring-like structure, while their cores sit side by side. Personally, I think the cosmic duo looks more like a pair of wireless over-the-ear headphones like Sony’s acclaimed WH-1000 XM4 cans.
The formation of ring-like structures at a galactic scale, especially in the events of merger between two galaxies, is quite rare. According to estimates, there are only a few hundred documented in Earth’s cosmic neighborhood. A ring formation at such a massive scale is nothing short of a chance event, because the interacting galaxies have to collide at just the right angle and orientation to form such a structure (via LiveScience).
The ring’s outline is usually made up of young blue stars, serving somewhat like an elongated genesis chamber of stars. However, rings generated from galactic collisions are rather short-lived (on a cosmic time scale, that is), and usually lose their distinct structure a few hundred million years.
Today’s Wordle Answer #526 – November 27, 2022 Solution And Hints
The solution to today’s Wordle puzzle ( #526 – November 27, 2022) is “happy.” Its most popular meaning is to be glad or pleased, but the root word “hap” means chance or fortune, and that’s why the word “happy” is also used to mean lucky, fortunate or providential circumstances or unforeseen success (via Merriam-Webster).
We solved the puzzle in four tries today — the first two guesses, ounce and plait, were an attempt to eliminate all the vowels early on, which is our preferred Wordle-solving strategy. Those two whittled down the possible answers from 383 to just eight, and the third guess, debug, reduced that further to three. The word happy was our lucky fourth guess, and what made us even happier is that it took WordleBot the same number of tries to solve the puzzle. We hope you do it even faster, and if you’re looking for more puzzles to try your hand at, check out these other games like Wordle.
Orion Capsule Breaks Record Of Farthest Spacecraft Traveled From Earth
“It just so happened that with that really large orbit, high altitude above the moon, we were able to pass the Apollo 13 record,” Jim Geffre, Orion vehicle integration manager at NASA, said of the Orion’s record-breaking journey. On Monday, Nov. 28, Orion will reach a peak distance of 268,553 miles before the orbital manoeuvring system engine kicks in and propels it toward another close flyby with the Moon in the first week of December. Six days later, the vehicle is expected to return home.
According to NASA, the Orion is “built to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before.” The Orion capsule has been co-engineered with Lockheed Martin, and it is touted to be the only vehicle capable of manned deep space mission and returning back to Earth at high speed from targets such as the Moon and beyond. With the Artemis project, NASA is actually aiming for the first crewed visit to the Mars, as well.
Capable of carrying four crew members, the capsule employs a total of 355,056 parts and can support missions lasting up to 21 days in its current state (via NASA). The capsule has systems for monitoring and maintaining aspects like humidity, carbon dioxide, oxygen, and radiation shielding, among other vital elements. Interestingly, the Orion’s base also features the world’s largest ablative heat shield that measures 16.5-feet in diameter and will protect the vehicle when it makes high-speed entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
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