Initial results from the New Horizons exploration of 2014 MU69, a small Kuiper Belt object

Science. 2019 May 17;364(6441):eaaw9771. doi: 10.1126/science.aaw9771.


The Kuiper Belt is a distant region of the outer Solar System. On 1 January 2019, the New Horizons spacecraft flew close to (486958) 2014 MU69, a cold classical Kuiper Belt object approximately 30 kilometers in diameter. Such objects have never been substantially heated by the Sun and are therefore well preserved since their formation. We describe initial results from these encounter observations. MU69 is a bilobed contact binary with a flattened shape, discrete geological units, and noticeable albedo heterogeneity. However, there is little surface color or compositional heterogeneity. No evidence for satellites, rings or other dust structures, a gas coma, or solar wind interactions was detected. MU69's origin appears consistent with pebble cloud collapse followed by a low-velocity merger of its two lobes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.7940630