Outbound from Ultima Thule
This morning we all gathered at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab to see the last pre-flyby image of Ultima Thule that got sent down overnight. You can see it here, along with a graphic indicating the rotational axis and probable shape of this little Kuiper Belt Object.
A composite of two images taken by New Horizons’ high-resolution Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), which provides the best indication of Ultima Thule’s size and shape so far. Preliminary measurements of this Kuiper Belt object suggest it is approximately 20 miles long by 10 miles wide (32 kilometers by 16 kilometers). An artist’s impression at right illustrates one possible appearance of Ultima Thule, based on the actual image at left. The direction of Ultima’s spin axis is indicated by the arrows.Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI; sketch courtesy of James Tuttle Keane
As I write this, the New Horizons flyby sequences of images are on their way to Earth. We will likely see the best one at the press conference on Wednesday. From there on out, the images and data will get better. There is a short-term delay in transmissions over next weekend. That’s because the spacecraft will be occulted by the Sun. ...