The New Horizons spacecraft made a close encounter with Ultima Thule on New Year’s Day, making this the most distant body ever visited by a robotic explorer. The color images returned by the vehicle show the object resembles a red-colored snowman 31 kilometers (19 miles) in length. Exploration of Ultima Thule could help astronomers answer mysteries about comets and the formation of the Solar System. New Horizons made history in 2015, when it became the first spacecraft to visit Pluto.Read More A Giant Red Snowman in Space? New Horizons Returns First Color Images of Ultima Thule
The New Horizons spacecraft is racing toward an encounter with the most-distant object ever visited by humans. Ultima Thule is a member of the Kuiper Belt, a collection of icy, rocky bodies at the edge of our planetary system, well beyond the orbit of the most distant planet, Neptune. New Horizons made history in 2015, when it became the first spacecraft to visit Pluto. The encounter will occur on New Year’s Day.Read More New Horizons Races Toward Encounter with Ultima Thule — Most Distant World Ever Studied
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at the asteroid Bennu on December 3rd. This mission will return samples from this body to the Earth for study by researchers. Bennu was discovered in 1999, and this carbon-rich asteroid is believed to be older than the solar system. Researchers hope the mission will help teach us more about the ancient solar system and the formation of life on Earth. The sample material is scheduled to land in the desert of Utah in the year 2023. This is the first U.S. mission to land on an asteroid.Read More OSIRIS-REx Arrives at the Asteroid Bennu – Tucson and the World Celebrates
An asteroid orbiting backwards around the Sun may have come from another solar system, according to astronomers in France.
Asteroid 2015 BZ509 is roughly two miles across, and orbits the Sun at roughly the same distance as Jupiter. Computer simulations suggest the object may have joined our planetary family four-and-a-half billion years ago, just as the Earth and other planets were being formed.
The two tiny moons of Mars have puzzled astronomers for decades. New research now suggests they may have been created in a giant impact. billions of years ago, when Mars collided with a rocky body 500 miles in diameter.Read More The Moons of Mars May Have Been Born in Giant Impact