New Horizons Sends A Sharper Images of Ultima Thule

AlphaAtlas

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The New Horizons probe blew past "Ultima Thule" on News Year's Day in 2019, and managed to snap an image of the object on the way. Unfortunately, bandwidth is limited when the probe is so far away that radio signals take 6 hours to reach Earth, so scientists only got a partial, fuzzy image in the following days. Fortunately, the probe eventually managed to transmit the full image, which NASA just processed and released.

The oblique lighting of this image reveals new topographic details along the day/night boundary, or terminator, near the top. These details include numerous small pits up to about 0.4 miles (0.7 kilometers) in diameter. The large circular feature, about 4 miles (7 kilometers) across, on the smaller of the two lobes, also appears to be a deep depression. Not clear is whether these pits are impact craters or features resulting from other processes, such as "collapse pits" or the ancient venting of volatile materials.

I briefly tried sharpening the image even more (upscaled 4x using a neural network, then downscaled to 2x using SSIM_downscale, further sharpened with blended FineSharp/LSFMod), but unsurprisingly, I couldn't get it to look any better than NASA.
 

AlphaAtlas

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Also, a typo did get me this trippy image:
typosmall.jpg
 

kju1

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No new alien overlords? Color me uninterested...j/k. Pretty cool.
 

sfsuphysics

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Definitely looks like two asteroids that collided but did so under relatively slow conditions, and they're just kind of stuck there due to their gravitational attraction (as weak as it may be). Get near something with some significant tidal force though and that'll pull the pieces apart.
 

mlcarson

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Did anybody notice the name Ultima Thule was used in the old Space: 1999 series for a planet in the episode "Death's Other Dominion" which was a very distant ice planet?
 

Dr. Righteous

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Did anybody notice the name Ultima Thule was used in the old Space: 1999 series for a planet in the episode "Death's Other Dominion" which was a very distant ice planet?
I seem to remember the pilot episode ending with them receiving mysterious messages from "planet Ultra" on the edge of the solar system.
 

Nunu

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I'm seeing pancakes, might have something to do with missing breakfast today tho..
 
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Nothing too exciting to look at. It's basically just an inactive long-period comet floating out there. I'm sure there will be some good science to come of it, though.
 

serpretetsky

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Curious what the force is between those two objects if they separated them a little bit (would it crush me if I squeezed between them or would it just be gentle pressure on my chest?).
Quick, someone get the two masses and estimates distances between their centers and G(m1*m2)/r^2 it up.
 
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Curious what the force is between those two objects if they separated them a little bit (would it crush me if I squeezed between them or would it just be gentle pressure on my chest?).
Quick, someone get the two masses and estimates distances between their centers and G(m1*m2)/r^2 it up.
Oh, it would crush you. A massive object is still massive, even when gravity is low. Dropping a piano on your foot in .001 G would be just about as bad as doing the same in 1 G, only in slow motion.
 

DNMock

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Curious what the force is between those two objects if they separated them a little bit (would it crush me if I squeezed between them or would it just be gentle pressure on my chest?).
Quick, someone get the two masses and estimates distances between their centers and G(m1*m2)/r^2 it up.


Probably did my math wrong here, but assuming they are both 7 km spheres and are solid granite, it would just feel like having 100 billion pounds sitting on your chest, or about 150 empire state buildings.

Oh, it would crush you. A massive object is still massive, even when gravity is low. Dropping a piano on your foot in .001 G would be just about as bad as doing the same in 1 G, only in slow motion.

not really. Force is what matters and acceleration is just as important as mass there. A piano at .001 G will put 1000 times less pressure on you than it would at 1 G here on earth. (note, 1 G = 9.8 m/s^2 of acceleration).

This is why a bug can hit your windshield while driving 5 mph and doesn't explode like it does driving down the highway.
 
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TMCM

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i wonder what the bandwidth is? are we talking 2400 baud or even less?
 
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northrop

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Looks like it was shot with one of those cameras used by the (insert name) bank.
 

Burticus

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Giant useless space rock.... or space gold mine? I think we should start mining these things... they could be full of diamonds, or they could be just cosmic cat turds... But we won't know until we try.
 

jegbus

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Hrm, I thought New Horizons was releasing a new Ultima Game and I came here to see some high rez screen shots. I'm very disappointed!
 

Nobu

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Probably did my math wrong here, but assuming they are both 7 km spheres and are solid granite, it would just feel like having 100 billion pounds sitting on your chest, or about 150 empire state buildings.



not really. Force is what matters and acceleration is just as important as mass there. A piano at .001 G will put 1000 times less pressure on you than it would at 1 G here on earth. (note, 1 G = 9.8 m/s^2 of acceleration).

This is why a bug can hit your windshield while driving 5 mph and doesn't explode like it does driving down the highway.
I'm thinking he was going for inertia there: a massive rock will have a lot of inertia, whether it's .001G or 1G (earth gravity) velocity, as long as it's moving. That said, it'd have less force, so you wouldn't really feel it pushing against you unless you were between it and something else similarly massive...well, that or if you happened to be orbiting in the opposite direction on a collision course at about the same velocity – in that case, you'd be pulverized.

Edit: to put it in a more relatable way: imagine standing on some railroad tracks between two 100ton trains, both moving toward you at .001G. They won't stop, because you don't offer 100tons of resistance, until they touch each other and their force equals out. Gravity will ensure that (even not accounting for inertia).
 
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defaultluser

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i wonder what the bandwidth is? are we talking 2400 baud or even less?


It's a little slower than that:

1 Kbps = 1000bps, best-case. And that's if it and the network are doing noting else. Who knew sending data back from beyond Pluto could take so long :D

It is used for more than just sending picture data. And it can't upload while it's using it sensors.

It's also limited on how much communication time it can use, since there's other traffic on the Deep Space Network.

https://www.geek.com/news/new-horiz...er-second-data-connection-from-pluto-1614967/

The probe is designed for fast flybys to collect data, then spend the next couple months uploading. That's what it did with Pluto, and was why we slowly got all the data.
 
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M76

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Giant useless space rock.... or space gold mine? I think we should start mining these things... they could be full of diamonds, or they could be just cosmic cat turds... But we won't know until we try.
There is no substance so expensive that hauling it back to earth would be feasible. Space mining is only attractive for materials that you'd use on the colonies there. Imagine that, in space diamonds are worthless, as you can't really build anything useful from them.
 

TMCM

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It's a little slower than that:

1 Kbps = 1000bps, best-case. And that's if it and the network are doing noting else. Who knew sending data back from beyond Pluto could take so long :D

It is used for more than just sending picture data. And it can't upload while it's using it sensors.

It's also limited on how much communication time it can use, since there's other traffic on the Deep Space Network.

https://www.geek.com/news/new-horiz...er-second-data-connection-from-pluto-1614967/

The probe is designed for fast flybys to collect data, then spend the next couple months uploading. That's what it did with Pluto, and was why we slowly got all the data.


Thanks for sharing the link!!!
 

sfsuphysics

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Probably did my math wrong here, but assuming they are both 7 km spheres and are solid granite, it would just feel like having 100 billion pounds sitting on your chest, or about 150 empire state buildings.
Well it's morning... and I'm totally good at math and logic in the morning so lets turn this bitch into a math thread and I can double check.

density of granite 2750 kg/m3
mass of sphere 7km (I'm going to assume radius, based of the dimensions given of the actual thing) = (4/3) * pi * 7000^3 * 2750 = 3.95 x 10^15 kg

Force of gravity at holding them together 6.67e-11 x (3.95e15)^2 / (7000^2) = 2.12e13 Newtons

Which is just under 5 trillion pounds. So actually more.
... about 300 billion if you take a 7km diameter sphere
 

serpretetsky

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I'm thinking he was going for inertia there.
Nay, I was not interested in inertia, I was curious how much static force those two objects are putting onto eachother where they are touching (assuming no rotation).
density of granite 2750 kg/m3
mass of sphere 7km (I'm going to assume radius, based of the dimensions given of the actual thing) = (4/3) * pi * 7000^3 * 2750 = 3.95 x 10^15 kg

Force of gravity at holding them together 6.67e-11 x (3.95e15)^2 / (7000^2) = 2.12e13 Newtons

Which is just under 5 trillion pounds.
Yeah, my idea that I could just gently squeeze between the two is pretty rediculous now :p. However, I think the distance between two 7km radius spheres is 14km, not 7km.
So 6.67e-11 x (3.95e15)^2 / (2*7000^2) = 5.31e12 Newtons. So... about 5.31e11 kg on earth gravity... so... 1 trillion lbs?
 

kju1

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There is no substance so expensive that hauling it back to earth would be feasible. Space mining is only attractive for materials that you'd use on the colonies there. Imagine that, in space diamonds are worthless, as you can't really build anything useful from them.

I dunno I imagine if you found a large enough amount of Rodium (that stuffs like 2,500/ounce) or maybe even Platinum you could make a business case for it...
 

M76

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I dunno I imagine if you found a large enough amount of Rodium (that stuffs like 2,500/ounce) or maybe even Platinum you could make a business case for it...
You have to get the spaceship there, slow it down, then accelerate it back to earth, then slow it down again, then land it. You need to bring fuel for all those speed changes, because in space breaking costs roughly the same amount in fuel as accelerating. And roughly it would cost $25.000 just to take 1kg of fuel into earth orbit.
 

kju1

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You have to get the spaceship there, slow it down, then accelerate it back to earth, then slow it down again, then land it. You need to bring fuel for all those speed changes, because in space breaking costs roughly the same amount in fuel as accelerating. And roughly it would cost $25.000 just to take 1kg of fuel into earth orbit.

Some of those speed changes can be minimized by making use of the orbits (both for boosts and braking). Youre also assuming conventional rocket fuel lifted from earth. There are unconventional ideas (solar sails, ion propulsion, nuclear thrust etc) that one could explore to make the numbers work. I didnt say it would be easy I just said that given a valuable enough metal like Rodium a business case could be made.

Obviously I am not the only one who thinks is possible because a whole lot of people are dumping money into figuring the problem out...
 

M76

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Some of those speed changes can be minimized by making use of the orbits (both for boosts and braking). Youre also assuming conventional rocket fuel lifted from earth. There are unconventional ideas (solar sails, ion propulsion, nuclear thrust etc) that one could explore to make the numbers work. I didnt say it would be easy I just said that given a valuable enough metal like Rodium a business case could be made.

Obviously I am not the only one who thinks is possible because a whole lot of people are dumping money into figuring the problem out...
Solar sail only works if you're accelerating away from the sun, and of course you can reduce fuel usage by using gravity of objects and planets, but you can't eliminate it. The probes that we sent there are moving at enormous speeds by the time they get to the kuiper belt, stopping them to take on minerals would be a tremendous effort, not to mention accelerating them back within a feasible amount of time in business terms. No business could affront an effort if it takes 40 years for the craft to get back. And the quicker you try to make the journey the more fuel you need.

The only way mining in space is viable if you use the materials nearby. preferably on the planetary object you're mining them on. I wish mass effect was real and we could transport asteroids to low earth orbit for mining, but that is not the case.
 

kju1

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Solar sail only works if you're accelerating away from the sun, and of course you can reduce fuel usage by using gravity of objects and planets, but you can't eliminate it. The probes that we sent there are moving at enormous speeds by the time they get to the kuiper belt, stopping them to take on minerals would be a tremendous effort, not to mention accelerating them back within a feasible amount of time in business terms. No business could affront an effort if it takes 40 years for the craft to get back. And the quicker you try to make the journey the more fuel you need.

The only way mining in space is viable if you use the materials nearby. preferably on the planetary object you're mining them on. I wish mass effect was real and we could transport asteroids to low earth orbit for mining, but that is not the case.

Challenge accepted ;)

Now I just need to find a few billion dollars!
 

DNMock

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Well it's morning... and I'm totally good at math and logic in the morning so lets turn this bitch into a math thread and I can double check.

density of granite 2750 kg/m3
mass of sphere 7km (I'm going to assume radius, based of the dimensions given of the actual thing) = (4/3) * pi * 7000^3 * 2750 = 3.95 x 10^15 kg

Force of gravity at holding them together 6.67e-11 x (3.95e15)^2 / (7000^2) = 2.12e13 Newtons

Which is just under 5 trillion pounds. So actually more.
... about 300 billion if you take a 7km diameter sphere

But it's two sphere's right? so it would be 2 * ((4/3) * 3.14 * 3500^3 * 2750). You did it as one solid sphere of 14 km diameter instead of two 7km diameter spheres touching in the middle.
 

serpretetsky

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But it's two sphere's right? so it would be 2 * ((4/3) * 3.14 * 3500^3 * 2750). You did it as one solid sphere of 14 km diameter instead of two 7km diameter spheres touching in the middle.
We're assuming two spheres with 7km radius (which is approximately the correct dimensions, Ultimate is a little larger with diameter 19km (radius 9.5km).
F = G*m1*m2/r^2
You multiply one mass by the other, so if you use identical masses you should see a squared show up, not a multiply by 2. "r" in that equation is the distance between the two masses. When you are caculating the force to an object that you are not inside of you treat it like a point and use the center of mass as where that point is.
 
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