Data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which explored Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule earlier this week, is yielding scientific discoveries daily. Among the findings made by the mission science team in the past day are:
Initial data analysis has found no evidence of rings or satellites larger than one mile in diameter orbiting Ultima Thule.
Data analysis has also not yet found any evidence of an atmosphere.
The color of Ultima Thule matches the color of similar worlds in the Kuiper Belt, as determined by telescopic measurements.
The two lobes of Ultima Thule — the first Kuiper Belt contact binary visited — are nearly identical in color. This matches what we know about binary systems which haven’t come into contact with each other, but rather orbit around a shared point of gravity.
“The first exploration of a small Kuiper Belt object and the most distant exploration of any world in history is now history, but almost all of the data analysis lies in the future,” said Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.