NASA discovers evidence of a unique mixture of water ice, methanol, and organic molecules on Ultima Thule’s surface. This discovered mixture is very different from most icy objects explored previously by spacecraft till date.
Recently, NASA has also published the first profile of Ultima Thule which reveals details about complex space object.
Ultima Thule scientific name is (486958) 2014 MU69. The words ‘Ultima’ and ‘Thule’ is its nickname. Ultima Thule is a Greco-Latin term which means a distant unknown world.
Ultima Thule is a trans-Neptunian object located in Kuiper belt (a circumstellar disc in outer Solar System). It is the farthest world ever explored by mankind. The flyby (close enough to record scientific data) of Ultima Thule is the farthest exploration of an object till date. It is approximately 6.4 billion km from Earth.
Ultima Thule was discovered in 2014 by astronomers using Hubble Space Telescope as part of their search for a Kuiper belt object for New Horizons mission (which was an interplanetary space probe launched by NASA). On 1 January 2019 NASA’s New Horizons space probe’s flyby Ultima Thule making it the farthest object in Solar System visited by a spacecraft.
Recent discoveries made about Ultima Thule are going to advance theories of solar system formation.