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[personal profile] krpalmer
The first day of the new year had New Horizons scheduled to fly past the “Kuiper Belt Object” nicknamed Ultima Thule, and aware the space probe’s mission was carrying on past Pluto I was interested in further possible revelations on the solar system’s icy fringes. Where the slow emergence of detail in the approach images from the final weeks and then days before Pluto and had sort of pointed out how small it is compared to Jupiter and Saturn, however, the final preliminary images of Ultima Thule staying just a few pixels had seemed to push things down to a smaller scale again. A comment or two that it would be tricky to get the cameras pointing in the precise correct direction had me wondering how things would turn out too.

It didn’t take too long to hear the probe was sending back recorded data after closest encounter, but for better pictures to come back took a while longer. Even the best image at the end of this week, showing two roundish lumps stuck together without collapsing into something bigger, still isn’t that clear. However, I did manage to find a comparison of Ultima Thule with Charon (which itself doesn’t seem quite as “pleasingly round” as Pluto to me) that really drives the difference in scale home for me, and might even be invoked to suggest “Pluto didn’t just happen to be noticed and hard-sold before all the other riff-raff out there.” Anyway, the end of this week is also turning up pictures from the surface of the other side of the moon, which on that scale might not look that different from the only side we knew about until sixty years ago.
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