NASA's New Horizons Science Team has revealed potentially important discoveries about a Kuiper Belt object known as Ultima Thule.
"The first exploration of a small Kuiper Belt and the farthest exploration of any world in history is now history, but almost all of the data is in the future," said New Horizons senior researcher Dr. Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute.
Among the incredible discoveries of the New Horizons science team are:
(i) The color of the Last Thule matches the color of similar Kuiper symmetrical objects;
(ii) the two lobes of the Kuiper Belt are almost identical; this fits with what we know about binary systems that have not been in contact with each other but rather orbits around a common weight point;
(iii) The Last Thule does not have rings or satellites larger than one millimeter;
(iv) the object has no detectable atmosphere.
The New Horizons data transmission will be interrupted for about a week, while the spacecraft passes behind the Sun as seen here on Earth.
Data transmission is back on January 10, 2019, starting with a 20-month discharge of the remaining scientific treasures.
"The scientists can not wait to start digging into that treasure," Dr. Stern said.