NASA’s Pluto probe spots the next deep space rock it’s zooming toward

<em>An image of Ultima Thule, taken by the New Horizons spacecraft on August 16th.</em>

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, known for flying by Pluto in 2015, has finally spotted its next target at the edge of the Solar System. On August 16th, the distant probe captured its first images of the space rock it’s currently zooming toward — an icy body nearly 20 miles across that’s been nicknamed Ultima Thule. It’s a major milestone for the New Horizons team as they prepare the spacecraft for its rendezvous with Ultima Thule on New Year’s Day 2019.

The New Horizons spacecraft has been en route to Ultima Thule ever since October 2015, just a few months after it flew by Pluto in July. Following the Pluto meet-up, NASA decided to extend the New Horizons mission so that the vehicle would fly by another target in the distant Solar…

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