In January 2006, NASA launched the New Horizons space probe to explore the horizons of the Solar System and know what’s beyond all the planets. The space probe sailed about 5.9 billion kilometres for almost a decade, with state-of-the-art instruments on board, before it met Pluto, a now downgraded ‘dwarf planet’. Three and a half years later and still gliding, it encountered ‘2014 MU69’—the farthest object in the Solar System ever to be visited by a spacecraft. Today, this oddly named object has a fancy moniker—Arrokoth—and we now know a whole lot about this distant Kuiper Belt Object than ever before, thanks to three new studies.
The reaction simplifies the production of pharmaceutically important molecules called lactones and other complex compounds.