NASA has found evidence for a unique mixture of methanol, water ice, and organic molecules on Ultima Thule’s surface — the farthest world ever explored by mankind. The US space agency has published the first profile of Ultima Thule — an ancient relic from the era of planet formation — revealing details about the complex space object.
Analysing just the first sets of data gathered during the New Horizons spacecraft’s New Year’s 2019 flyby of the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 — nicknamed Ultima Thule — unveil much about the object’s development, geology and composition.
Researchers are also investigating a range of surface features on Ultima Thule, such as bright spots and patches, hills and troughs, and craters and pits on Ultima Thule. The largest depression is an 8-kilometre-wide feature the team has nicknamed Maryland crater — which likely formed from an impact.
Some smaller pits on the Kuiper Belt object, however, may have been created by material falling into underground spaces, or due to exotic ices going from a solid to a gas and leaving pits in its place.