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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Kuiper Belt Pancakes

Kuiper Belt Pancakes

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, February 11, 2019/Categories: natural history, video, space science, environment, adventure

New Horizons Image Processed (credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins/SW Res. Inst/National Astronomy Observatory)

When NASA's New Horizons probe zipped by Ultima Thule on New Years Day the first images showed what appeared to be two potato-like objects orbiting together. Now with refinement of the gathered data, Ultima Thule looks more like two pancakes squashed together. According to NASA:

"images taken at New Horizons' closest approach to the Kuiper Belt object suggested that both lobes of Ultima Thule were nearly perfect spheres barely touching each other. But as more data were analyzed, including evocative crescent images taken 10 minutes after closest approach, a 'new view' of the object's shape emerged. Ultima Thule more closely resembles a pair of "pancakes".

Using image reprocessing technology, the NASA researcher's developed an animation of the distant pair of objects.

NASA created a graphic to illustrate how the bizarre object spins around itself.



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