Ultima Thule gets its 3D image thanks to NASA's New Horizons

The mysterious Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 is nicknamed Ultima Thule.


NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is going away from its recent flyby target - Ultima Thule. But the spacecraft still manages to capture better views of the ice space rock. The mission team has now released a new 3D image based on photographs that were clicked from a distance of 4,100 miles (6,600 kilometers).

Ultima Thule gets its 3D image thanks to NASA's New Horizons


"These views provide a clearer picture of Ultima Thule's overall shape," New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, a planetary scientist said, "including the flattened shape of the large lobe, as well as the shape of individual topographic features such as the 'neck' connecting the two lobes, the large depression on the smaller lobe, and hills and valleys on the larger lobe."

However, in order to see the 3D image in its full glory, you'll have to use a pair of red-blue 3D glasses. Although the spacecraft completed its flyby earlier in January, the probe will need about 20 months to send across all the data back to Earth.

The previous image showed circular pieces of terrain, deep pits and other details that were previously elusive. NASA said that its New Horizons got closer to MU69 than it did to Pluto, thanks to 'unprecedented precision' in calculations. Principal Investigator Alan Stern said there was a real chance the camera would have missed the object entirely.

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