Science Seminars

MU69: Exploration of an Ancient and Distant World

Speaker: Carly Howett (SWRI)
Date: Thursday, Oct 03, 2019
Time: 3:00 PM
Location: SPSC W120

Seminar Abstract:

On the 1st of January 2019 NASA’s New Horizons’ spacecraft made its closest approach of 2014 MU69 (sometimes nicknamed simply MU69, or Ultima Thule). MU69 is a cold classical Kuiper Belt object, residing at 44.6 AU from the Sun, making it both the most distant object ever explored and also the most primitive. The images returned by New Horizons show MU69 to be a complex world: a contact binary ~31 km long, with two touching unequally sized lobes 19 km and 14 km wide that are flattened in one direction.  The appearance of both lobes appears lumpy, dark, and uniform in color except in the neck region that links the lobes, which appears brighter and less red. This talk will explore New Horizons’ journey to MU69, and delve into the many discoveries made about this fascinating world.