New Horizons’ first sharp image of Arrokoth
In January, the New Horizons spacecraft returned a sharp image of Arrokoth, then known as Ultima Thule, revealing details of its snowman-like shape and its colour.
“The two lobes are perfectly separated, which implies that they must have merged extremely gently. Otherwise, they would have shattered,” said Dr Olivier Hainaut, astronomer at the European Southern Observatory.
“This is not typical for other parts of the Solar System — look at the craters on the Moon for examples of what usually happens!”
Arrokoth’s colour, as well as its shape, holds clues to its nature. “The two lobes seem to be of the same colour, and the surfaces seem very uniform,” observes Dr Hainaut.
“This is also extremely interesting: this suggests the two lobes are constituted of the same material, and that it is rather homogeneous.”
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