History may be written as NASA researchers are trying to send a probe to explore the elusive object that can be found beyond Pluto. It is the most distant objected that humanity tried to explore and the journey towards it won’t be easy.
The New Horizons Spacecraft will try to reach the object during New Year’s Day. The objective of the probe is called Ultima Thule. The space agency didn’t know about Ultima Thule when the New Horizons spacecraft began its journey towards Pluto back in 2006. There were no means to even detect the object until 2009 when a team of astronauts successfully installed an upgraded camera on the Hubble Space Telescope.
Hubble managed to capture a shot of Ultima Thule in 2014, with one year left before the spacecraft managed to fly past Pluto. The spacecraft has Ultima Thule within its sights, as it recently passed a milestone. New Horizon traveled a distance of 4 billion miles away from Earth, the largest distance attained by a human-made spacecraft.
The elusive nature of Ultima Thule has fascinated researchers since the initial discovery took place and they will be soon able to learn more about it during the flyby.
New Horizons is currently traveling through a region called the Kuiper Belt. The zone is filled with icy objects that continued to float as the solar system was forming. Pluto is one of them and these Kuiper Belt Objects are present in large amounts.
Ultima Thule is one of the last objects that remained untouched after millions of years. By studying it researchers hope to learn more about the formation of our solar system and the mechanics that led to the appearance of the distinctive planet like Earth.
According to NASA researchers, the object is too small to have been a planet and it was not affected by the energy coming from the sun. It can be compared to a time capsule that survived trough millennia.
New Horizons will be able to capture hundreds of photos of the object as it will aim to explore all the corners of the object.