News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

Composite Image of 2014 MU69 (Arrokoth)

Image Credit:Composite Image of 2014 MU69 (Arrokoth)” (16 May 2019) – NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute//Roman Tkachenko

New Year, New Day, New Image of Arrokoth



Updated article with new name.

27 July 2023

01 January 2019 image of Ultima Thule by New Horizons spacecraft and sketch of object and rotation courtesy James Tuttle Keane
Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI; sketch courtesy of James Tuttle Keane

During a morning press briefing aired on NASA TV on New Year’s Day 2019, New Horizons mission team leaders revealed the latest best image of 486958 Arrokoth. Still a blur, the Kuiper Belt body’s shape is more apparent in this latest image. Still unclear: are the two lobes connected or are they in fact two separate objects orbiting each other? The pole of the object was pointed toward the spacecraft, meaning Arrokoth rotates from that perspective like a propellor. Artist and planetary scientist James Tuttle Keane has helped visualize this geometry in his illustration included next to the image.

New Horizons has already passed by Arrokoth safely and completed a sequence of data collection including higher resolution images of the object’s surface. It will take time for these data to be downlinked to Earth, but the team expects over the next two days to receive and release to the science community and public high resolution images that reveal Arrokoth’s true shape and surface geology.

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