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New Horizons, Astronomy, and the Gift of Knowledge

8 Jan 2019, 06:00 UTC
New Horizons, Astronomy, and the Gift of Knowledge
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Science: It’s How We Learn about the Universe
In this animated GIF of Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule made from two images taken 38 minutes apart, the “Thule” lobe is closest to the New Horizons spacecraft. As Ultima Thule is seen to rotate, hints of the topography can be perceived. The images were taken by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) at 4:23 and 5:01 Universal Time on January 1, 2019 from respective ranges of 38,000 miles (61,000 kilometers) and 17,000 miles (28,000 kilometers), with respective original scales of 1017 feet (310 meters) and 459 feet (140 meters) per pixel.Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
The last weekend of 2018 and the first day of the new year brought us some of the most amazing gifts of science in the form of images and data from the New Horizons team as their spacecraft flew past Ultima Thule (2014 MU69). I say these are gifts because what else do you call it when a group of people dedicates their careers and intellects to showing us a tiny world at the edges of the solar system? It is a wonderful thing they gave us: precision measurements, precision flight, and spot-on ...

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