Despite the fact that the device is at a distance of more than 160 million kilometers from its target dwarf planet Ultima Thule (2014 MU69) with a diameter of 15-20 kilometers – automatic interplanetary station “New horizons” provided the first photograph of the object of interest. Image of the dwarf planet was taken with a camera mounted on a telescopic camera Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on 16 August and published aerospace Agency NASA on August 29.
Image of the dwarf planet Ultima Thule (2014 MU69) presented above is a composite (consists of 48 images). One of the leaders of the mission Hal weaver notes that the science team New horizons is not expected that the probe will be able to see the dwarf planet at that distance, given the large number of bright stars in the field of view of the probe. However, the camera LORRI has successfully solved this problem, having found the Ultima Thule where she was supposed to be at the time of shooting.
“The background of a photo is very rich in stars, making it difficult to obtain high-quality images less bright objects. In fact, we searched for a very dull needle in a stack of hay is very bright. While the Ultima Thule remains only a dim point, but it will become more noticeable as the convergence of the probe with the dwarf planet,” said Hal weaver, one of the leaders of the New Horizons mission.
Early detection of the object by using “New horizons” is very important because it allows the team to pave further the path of movement of the apparatus to its purpose, and to change the program of supervision, if new photos of the Ultima reveal interesting details of its relief.
Automatic interplanetary station “New horizons” was about 3/4 of the way to the target, the researchers note. Orbit of the dwarf planet Ultima Thule (2014 MU69) it reaches in the beginning of next year.
Daily probe covers about 1.1 million kilometers of space, periodically waking up, taking pictures of relatively close objects in the Kuiper belt and other celestial bodies, and observing the changes in the composition and properties of the surrounding matter.
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