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Initial Results From the New Horizons Exploration of 2014 MU 69, a Small Kuiper Belt Object

S A Stern  1 H A Weaver  2 J R Spencer  3 C B Olkin  3 G R Gladstone  4 W M Grundy  5 J M Moore  6 D P Cruikshank  6 H A Elliott  4   7 W B McKinnon  8 J Wm Parker  3 A J Verbiscer  9 L A Young  3 D A Aguilar  10 J M Albers  2 T Andert  11 J P Andrews  3 F Bagenal  12 M E Banks  13 B A Bauer  2 J A Bauman  14 K E Bechtold  2 C B Beddingfield  6   15 N Behrooz  2 K B Beisser  2 S D Benecchi  16 E Bernardoni  12 R A Beyer  6   15 S Bhaskaran  17 C J Bierson  18 R P Binzel  19 E M Birath  3 M K Bird  20   21 D R Boone  17 A F Bowman  2 V J Bray  22 D T Britt  23 L E Brown  2 M R Buckley  2 M W Buie  3 B J Buratti  17 L M Burke  2 S S Bushman  2 B Carcich  2   24 A L Chaikin  25 C L Chavez  6   15 A F Cheng  2 E J Colwell  2 S J Conard  2 M P Conner  2 C A Conrad  3 J C Cook  26 S B Cooper  2 O S Custodio  2 C M Dalle Ore  6   15 C C Deboy  2 P Dharmavaram  2 R D Dhingra  27 G F Dunn  4 A M Earle  19 A F Egan  3 J Eisig  2 M R El-Maarry  28 C Engelbrecht  2 B L Enke  3 C J Ercol  2 E D Fattig  4 C L Ferrell  3 T J Finley  3 J Firer  2 J Fischetti  14 W M Folkner  17 M N Fosbury  2 G H Fountain  2 J M Freeze  2 L Gabasova  29 L S Glaze  30 J L Green  30 G A Griffith  2 Y Guo  2 M Hahn  21 D W Hals  2 D P Hamilton  31 S A Hamilton  2 J J Hanley  4 A Harch  24 K A Harmon  17 H M Hart  2 J Hayes  2 C B Hersman  2 M E Hill  2 T A Hill  2 J D Hofgartner  17 M E Holdridge  2 M Horányi  12 A Hosadurga  2 A D Howard  32 C J A Howett  3 S E Jaskulek  2 D E Jennings  13 J R Jensen  2 M R Jones  2 H K Kang  2 D J Katz  2 D E Kaufmann  3 J J Kavelaars  33 J T Keane  34 G P Keleher  2 M Kinczyk  35 M C Kochte  2 P Kollmann  2 S M Krimigis  2 G L Kruizinga  17 D Y Kusnierkiewicz  2 M S Lahr  2 T R Lauer  36 G B Lawrence  2 J E Lee  37 E J Lessac-Chenen  14 I R Linscott  38 C M Lisse  2 A W Lunsford  13 D M Mages  17 V A Mallder  2 N P Martin  39 B H May  40 D J McComas  4   41 R L McNutt Jr  2 D S Mehoke  2 T S Mehoke  2 D S Nelson  14 H D Nguyen  2 J I Núñez  2 A C Ocampo  30 W M Owen  17 G K Oxton  2 A H Parker  3 M Pätzold  21 J Y Pelgrift  14 F J Pelletier  14 J P Pineau  42 M R Piquette  12 S B Porter  3 S Protopapa  3 E Quirico  29 J A Redfern  3 A L Regiec  2 H J Reitsema  43 D C Reuter  13 D C Richardson  31 J E Riedel  17 M A Ritterbush  17 S J Robbins  3 D J Rodgers  2 G D Rogers  2 D M Rose  3 P E Rosendall  2 K D Runyon  2 M G Ryschkewitsch  2 M M Saina  2 M J Salinas  14 P M Schenk  44 J R Scherrer  4 W R Schlei  2 B Schmitt  29 D J Schultz  2 D C Schurr  30 F Scipioni  6   15 R L Sepan  2 R G Shelton  2 M R Showalter  15 M Simon  2 K N Singer  3 E W Stahlheber  2 D R Stanbridge  14 J A Stansberry  45 A J Steffl  3 D F Strobel  46 M M Stothoff  4 T Stryk  47 J R Stuart  17 M E Summers  48 M B Tapley  4 A Taylor  14 H W Taylor  2 R M Tedford  3 H B Throop  16 L S Turner  2 O M Umurhan  6   15 J Van Eck  2 D Velez  17 M H Versteeg  4 M A Vincent  3 R W Webbert  2 S E Weidner  41 G E Weigle 2nd  49 J R Wendel  30 O L White  6   15 K E Whittenburg  2 B G Williams  14 K E Williams  14 S P Williams  2 H L Winters  2 A M Zangari  3 T H Zurbuchen  30
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Initial Results From the New Horizons Exploration of 2014 MU 69, a Small Kuiper Belt Object

S A Stern et al. Science.

Abstract

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.

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