Astronomy and Astrophysics

After Pluto, Hopkins-led New Horizons mission nears an object 'beyond the known world,' Ultima Thule

After Pluto, Hopkins-led New Horizons mission nears an object 'beyond the known world,' Ultima Thule

Three and a half years after giving humanity its first close-up view of Pluto, and almost 13 years after launching from Earth, the New Horizons spacecraft will explore another new frontier: a reddish hunk of rock and ice known as Ultima Thule.

The object — or, perhaps, pair of objects (it’s so far away astronomers aren’t sure) — is thought to be a pristine remnant of the early solar system, untouched for billions of years. Its nickname conveys its significance, meaning “beyond the known world.”

Ultima Thule is 4 billion miles from Earth. New Horizons will...

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