NASA’s New Horizons mission broke records on New Year’s Day 2019 after encountering the most distant object in our solar system ever explored by a spacecraft – a small Kuiper Belt object named 486958 2014 MU69, also known as Ultima Thule.
The peanut-shaped object’s distinct shape, called a contact binary, holds important clues about how it formed. Additional clues come from observations of other Kuiper belt objects, especially binaries, where W. M. Keck Observatory is making valuable contributions.
Dr. Will Grundy, a key member of the New Horizons mission, will explain why Kuiper Belt objects serve as time capsules that could unlock secrets about the origins of our solar system, from birth to infant stages of its lifetime.
Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona