New Horizons

Now view Ultima Thule in 3D

Now view Ultima Thule in 3D

Today we're getting a better look at the furthest space object viewed relatively up-close by a human-made craft: Ultima Thule! This space body - likely made of mostly ice-like material - is out beyond Pluto. This double-rock-looking hunk was captured in images by the NASA mission New Horizons - a mission whose primary target was our distant cousin Pluto.

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Ultima Thule: The first close photos and icy new info

Ultima Thule: The first close photos and icy new info

An entirely new kind of space body was seen over the past few hours - and what a strange sort of space matter it is! This is Ultima Thule, the latest space object detected and photographed by NASA's New Horizons mission. This was the same mission that gave us our closest-ever look at Pluto - now it's headed beyond - out into the Kuiper Belt!

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Free Pluto Safari app lets you track the New Horizons trip to Ultima Thule

Free Pluto Safari app lets you track the New Horizons trip to Ultima Thule

Back in August the NASA spacecraft New Horizons spotted its next target for the first time, that target is called Ultima Thule. New Horizons is set to pass within 2,200 miles of the icy target at 12:33 am EST on January 1 or New Year's Day. That is a very close pass and puts New Horizons much closer to Ultima Thule than it came to the dwarf planet, Pluto when it zipped by at a distance of 7,800 miles.

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New Horizons out of hibernation ahead of Ultima Thule flyby

New Horizons out of hibernation ahead of Ultima Thule flyby

NASA's New Horizons probe came out of hibernation mode today, its first time back to a fully awake state in six months. Until now, the probe has been in an energy-conserving state while traveling close to its next target, a distant and small object known as Ultima Thule. New Horizons is set to fly past that rock on January 1, 2019.

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Beyond Pluto: Countdown to NASA’s flyby of ULTIMA THULE

Beyond Pluto: Countdown to NASA’s flyby of ULTIMA THULE

The same spacecraft that brought us our closest-ever look at Pluto is still traveling outward. The mission goes by the name New Horizons, and Pluto was only its first (and thus far well known) in a string of mission components. Pluto, you see, rolls within the Kuiper Belt, a belt of asteroids that's 20x as wide as the Asteroid Belt we learned about in grade school. Pluto is just the gatekeeper.

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Pluto could be a planet again, just like our moon

Pluto could be a planet again, just like our moon

Is Pluto a planet or not? Depending the age of whom you ask, and depending they keep up with the latest new, they might answer yes or now. Apparently, it also depends whether you’re asking an astronomer or a planetary scientists. At least that’s the sentiment that NASA scientists, led by New Horizon principal investigator Alan Stern, is giving off in proposing a redefinition of what a planet is, which would re-induct Pluto to the club once again. Curiously enough, it would also add 100 new planets to our solar system alone.

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NASA imagines landing on Pluto’s surface in new video

NASA imagines landing on Pluto’s surface in new video

This month celebrates the one year anniversary of New Horizons' visit to Pluto, everyone's favorite dwarf planet. Launched back in 2006, New Horizons was our first opportunity to get up close and personal with Pluto, and even though the flyby was a brief one, the pictures and measurements New Horizons was able to capture are awe-inspiring. To celebrate the one year anniversary of the flyby, NASA is imagining what it would be like to land on the surface of Pluto with a new video that strings together more than 100 images from the New Horizons mission.

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NASA Pluto photo shows wispy clouds in a stunning glow

NASA Pluto photo shows wispy clouds in a stunning glow

In summer 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft took an incredible photo of Pluto that NASA has made public today. The image shows the planet as a dark shadow, its shape visible only due to the soft white glow coming from its backlit side. The image is newsworthy itself due to its sheer beauty — this is definitely one to get framed for your office — but it also has some small features exposed for researchers and the public alike to see. One of those features is a small low-hanging cloud.

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Pluto’s ‘ice spider’ is NASA’s most striking find this month

Pluto’s ‘ice spider’ is NASA’s most striking find this month

We’re not even halfway through April yet, and NASA’s already tantalizing us with some fascinating discoveries this month. The most recent one involves an “ice spider” on Pluto, a large part of the planet’s landscape featuring “an unusual geological feature” the space agency describes as looking like a big ol’ spider. A color image of the region was snapped by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft last summer, and the photo has just recently been made public.

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Pluto’s heart may be heavy enough to have tipped it over

Pluto’s heart may be heavy enough to have tipped it over

One of the coolest things about Pluto that was shown in the images sent back by the New Horizons probe is the heart-shaped area on the surface dubbed Tombaugh Regio. Scientists have been researching the data gathered by New Horizons and the study is now suggesting that the heart-shaped area might be heavy enough to have tipped the dwarf planet on its side. The west side of the heart called Sputnik Planum with its smooth surface is through to be what remains of a large crater that filled with nitrogen ice.

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NASA’s New Horizons reveals snow-covered mountains on Pluto

NASA’s New Horizons reveals snow-covered mountains on Pluto

New Horizons, the NASA spacecraft that studied Pluto with a number of flybys last summer, continues to send its data back to Earth, often with new discoveries. Just last week the space agency shared photos of giant frozen canyons in the former planet's North Pole region, and now NASA believes there are mountain peaks covered in methane snow on the surface as well. New high-resolution photos of the southern hemisphere's Cthulhu region, known for its reddish hue, reveal mountains with brightly colored tops.

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NASA’s latest Pluto photo reveals frozen canyons

NASA’s latest Pluto photo reveals frozen canyons

It's been some time now since NASA's New Horizons spacecraft completed its flyby of dwarf planet Pluto, but the project is still producing amazing insights and images. Following recent photos of mountainous regions and a potential ice volcano, NASA has now published an image of the North Pole region, revealing a pockmarked topography full of frozen canyons and valleys. To get a better understanding of just how large and deep all these pits are, the widest area of the planet seen in this photo measures 21,000 miles across.

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