Friday, December 28, 2018

NASA's unmanned New Horizon spacecraft, now zooming into outer space beyond Pluto, will fly by a small space rock known as Ultima Thule on New Year's Day.

"New Horizons will map Ultima, determine how many moons it has and find out if it has rings or even an atmosphere, " said the mission's principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute. "It will make other studies, too, such as measuring Ultima's temperature and perhaps even its mass. 

Ultima Thule was first discovered in 2014 by astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope.

At about 19 miles in diameter, Ultima Thule is a bit larger than Manhattan. The rock is located in the Kuiper Belt, a massive, doughnut-shaped region of icy bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune.

The New Horizons spacecraft was launched from Earth 13 years ago and flew by Pluto in 2015.  The craft will come three times closer to Ultima Thule than it did Pluto, according to NASA. 


  1. We do build some very effective little robots, don't we?

    1. And our aim with them is just outstanding.