The NASA’s spacecraft named New Horizons, which recently studied a space rock located around 6.4 billion kilometers away from our planet Earth, has now been sent on a new mission of discovering moons in the edge of the solar system to help get an idea on the creation of the solar family, said the researchers on Thursday.
The probe, which is similar to the shape of a piano, is now making its journey in Kuiper Belt’s rings in search of small-sized moons which spun off an icy space rock pair named Ultima Thule which merged into orbit several years ago. On New Year’s Eve, New Horizons arrived as close as 3,500 kilometers of Ultima Thule thus showcasing a time capsule which dates back to our solar system’s birth.
This is the distant closest encounter made by a fly-by within the solar system. Since that time, a lot of pictures have been sent by the probe which shows that Ultima Thule as a contact binary. This reveals that two distinct bodies which formed individually later on merged to form a red-hued snowman shaped Ultima Thule as a result of irradiated ice.
Moreover, the formation is only about more than 34 kilometers long. The researchers further observed that the two merged celestial bodies- one named as Ultima while the second named as Thule- at some point of time earlier were part of rotating space rocks cloud which later on merged into two big sized bodies which are in orbit in a slow speed.
The probe, which is currently around 5 million kilometers away of Ultima Thule, will be sent back more detailed data and pictures in the weeks to come, said NASA. New Horizons, which was launched in the year 2006, has toured 6.4 billion kilometers in the most far off of the solar system to conduct a study on Pluto, its five moons as well as several icy objects of Kuiper Belt.