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Ultima Thule

Context: NASA has found evidence of a unique mixture of water ice, methanol, and organic molecules on Ultima Thule’s surface. This mixture is very different from most icy objects explored previously by spacecraft till date.

 

About Ultima Thule:

  • Located in the Kuiper belt in the outermost regions of the Solar system.
  • Measures approximately 30 km in diameter, and is irregularly shaped.
  • It has a reddish color, probably caused by exposure of hydrocarbons to sunlight over billions of years.
  • It belongs to a class of Kuiper belt objects called the “cold classicals”, which have nearly circular orbits with low inclinations to the solar plane.

 

About New Horizons:

  • Launched on January 19, 2006 and conducted a six-month-long reconnaissance flyby study of Pluto and its moons in summer 2015.
  • The goal of the mission is to understand the formation of the Plutonian system, the Kuiper belt, and the transformation of the early Solar System.

Current Affairs 2020

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