NASA Probe Reaches Object 6 Billion Kilometres Away from Earth
A NASA probe has successfully completed its flyby of Ultima Thule, a small and distant world far beyond the orbit of planet Neptune.
The probe, which is called New Horizons, reached Ultima Thule – located over six billion kilometres away from Earth – on 1 January 2019.
Jim Bridenstine, an administrator at NASA, confirmed the flyby on Twitter: “In addition to being the first to explore Pluto, today New Horizons flew by the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft, and became the first to directly explore an object that holds remnants from the birth of our solar system.”
He added: “This is what leadership in space exploration is all about.”
Discovered in 2014, Ultima Thule is a 30 kilometre-wide mass that is floating in the Kuiper Belt. According to NASA, it will take an estimated 20 months to download all the scientific data that the probe will collect in its brief flyby.