Approach to Ultima Thule

March 18, 2019
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This short movie shows the view of Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 (nicknamed Ultima Thule) as seen by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft from Dec. 7, 2018 to Jan. 1, 2019. During the approach, Ultima Thule transforms from a faint dot 20 million miles (31 million kilometers) away, indistinguishable from thousands of background stars, to a newly revealed world unlike any seen before, from a range of 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers). The sequence consists of actual New Horizons images, taken at discrete intervals during the approach, supplemented with computer-generated intermediate frames in order to make a smooth movie. Time slows down during the movie to show clearly both the slow initial phases of the approach and the very rapid final stages. The final image (seen behind the credits) is a parting crescent view of Ultima Thule, taken 10 minutes after closest approach occurred at 12:33 a.m. EST on Jan. 1.Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/National Optical Astronomy Observatory/Brian May/Maria Banks/Roman Tkachenko