sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Thursday, January 3, 2019

In Space

Face

The Chinese have been heralded by the international press for landing an unmanned probe on the Moon. While it's a big deal for China, I guess, we landed men there several times including dune buggies for them to cruise around on, fifty years ago. Does that put China fifty or more years behind the USA? Yes, and no. They want to put their own people on the Moon, and they're working on it. But as with the Russians, they haven't been able to close the deal. This lunar landing serves to remind us that China still has a space program.

Ultima Thule

Scientists from NASA's New Horizons mission released the first detailed images of the most distant object ever explored -- the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule. Its remarkable appearance is unlike anything we've seen before.

This image taken by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) is the most detailed of Ultima Thule returned so far by the New Horizons spacecraft. It was taken at 5:01 Universal Time on January 1, 2019, just 30 minutes before closest approach from a range of 18,000 miles (28,000 kilometers), with an original scale of 730 feet (140 meters) per pixel.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

"This flyby is a historic achievement," said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "Never before has any spacecraft team tracked down such a small body at such high speed so far away in the abyss of space. New Horizons has set a new bar for state-of-the-art spacecraft navigation."

The new images -- taken from as close as 17,000 miles (27,000 kilometers) on approach -- revealed Ultima Thule as a "contact binary," consisting of two connected spheres. End to end, the world measures 19 miles (31 kilometers) in length. The team has dubbed the larger sphere "Ultima" (12 miles/19 kilometers across) and the smaller sphere "Thule" (9 miles/14 kilometers across).

The team says that the two spheres likely joined as early as 99 percent of the way back to the formation of the solar system, colliding no faster than two cars in a fender-bender.

18 comments:

  1. It sounds like we will be getting pictures coming in long after our bodily expiration date. The wonder of what the future holds for our grands and great grands...

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    1. Their future is in their hands. I think that we've helped them as much as we've been able. Clearly, we will guide them as well as we can with the time remaining to us, but they will rise to the occasion or they won't.

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  2. All very interesting.
    Hubby said he read that about the Chinese. It landed on the dark side of the moon?
    Do we get signals from the dark side now? We did not when the astronauts were going.
    Ultima Thule sounds like a computer game.

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    1. Relay satellite in orbit around the moon is used for communications.

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    2. There is no Dark Side of the Moon. It's a metaphor used in the Pink Floyd song. There is a FAR side of the moon and it always faces away from Earth. It gets as much light as the face we see.

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    3. Thank you both. I always thought there was a dark side, haha. And not because of the song. Just when the astronauts circled the moon, communication went out.
      Thanks for the information!

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    4. Ah, but there is a dark side of the moon -- just not a permanently dark side. :)

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    5. Exactly. Just like there's a dark side of Earth.

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  3. What is on the far side that is interesting?

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    1. It gives the Chinese "face" for dropping their probe on the far side. That's the value. Bragging rights. The Chinese don't like to use the term 'dick measuring contest' because... it's a family blog. I don't think that Kim Jong Un and Dennis Rodman are equal.

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  4. Ultima Thule looks a bit like two pieces of pita bread, cooked together, in the photo. If there was humus orbiting, that would seal the deal.

    If there was an image that could be construed to look a bit like Jesus on a tortilla (https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/10166) - you could convince me that it actually IS a space tortilla. Possibly a quesadilla, given that the Moon was one said to be made of cheese.

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  5. That pic still doesn't explain the lack of albedo change in the approach photos...

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    1. It's one weird chunk of dirt and rocks in space. The subsequent photos of the fly-by are likely to reveal more.

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  6. The snowman. Wait til you see mine. You should be able to see it from space.

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  7. Is Ultima Thule the result of alien tech geo engineering? Yet another reason for a strong SPACE FORCE.

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    1. My new conspiracy theory is that Ultima Thule is hollow, and there are frozen giant insectoid aliens there, just waiting to thaw out and swarm toward Earth in their insectoid attack craft.

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It's virtual - it's a mirage - it's life