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NASA spaceship zooms toward farthest world ever photographed

NASA spaceship zooms toward farthest world ever photographed

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is about to fly past the most distant space rock we have ever visited.

Since zooming by Pluto in 2015, the probe has been heading ever further from home, towards a tiny world called 2014 MU69. It is set to arrive on New Year’s Day 2019.

The rock is about 6.6 billion kilometres from Earth. It was only discovered in 2014 during a search for potential targets for New Horizons.

Hurtling through space at a speed of 32,000 miles per hour, the spacecraft aims to make its closest approach within 2,200 miles of the surface of Ultima Thule.

Scientists are not sure what Ultima Thule looks like - whether it is round or oblong or even if it is a single object or a cluster.

It was discovered in 2014 with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, and is believed to be 20-30km in size.

Ultima Thule is named for a mythical, far-northern island in medieval literature and cartography, according to NASA.
"Ultima Thule means 'beyond Thule' - beyond the borders of the known world - symbolising the exploration of the distant Kuiper Belt and Kuiper Belt objects that New Horizons is performing, something never before done."

 

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