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Ultima Thule

Topics covered:

  1. Awareness in space.


Ultima Thule


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Ultima Thule and New Horizons- Key facts.


Context: NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, the same craft that made humanity’s first-ever visit to Pluto in 2015, is approaching its next target, a Kuiper Belt object a billion miles beyond Pluto, nicknamed Ultima Thule. It will be another first for New Horizons, the farthest planetary flyby in human history.


Key facts- Ultima Thule:

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



New Horizons was launched on 19 January 2006, and has been travelling through space for the past nine years. New Horizon’s core science mission is to map the surfaces of Pluto and Charon, to study Pluto’s atmosphere and to take temperature readings.

Sources: the hindu.