The edgy, weird-shaped rock was firstly discovered in 2014 with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope by astronomer Marc Buie. The New Horizons team made public recently that they chose to name the space object “Arrokoth.” Initially, it was called MU69, and there were some plans in giving it the title of “Ultima Thule.” The team, however, gave the right explanation about the somewhat unclear name of the space rock. They stated, “The name “Arrokoth’ reflects the inspiration of looking to the skies and wondering about the stars and worlds beyond our own.” Also, New Horizons principal investigator detailed in a NASA release, “…we’re honored to join with the Powhatan community and people of Maryland in this celebration of discovery.” Their mission and the Hubble Space Telescope could both be found in Maryland, with the Chesapeake Bay place as a significant one to the Powhatan population.
The Kuiper Belt-origin rock offered many details about its formation and structure. It’s a bi-lobed contact binary, representing two objects that joined together. The rock has an unexpected flat shape as well, with some particles of dust. What scientists consider most exciting, is the fact that Arrokoth kept its structure unaltered since the beginning of the solar system.
The New Horizons and the Former MU69
The New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe that was introduced NASA’s New Frontiers plan. Also, it represents a collaboration between engineer John Hopkins from University Applied Physics Laboratory, the Southwest Research Institute, and a team conducted by S. Alan Stern. They launched the spacecraft in 2006 with the primary goal of initializing a flyby study of the Pluto system in 2015.
Moreover, they had another mission to fly by and examine some Kuiper Belt objects.
The space object initially named MU69 served a real fascination since its discovery in 2014, remaining the most distant rock ever visited by a spacecraft. It is located almost 4 billion miles away from our planet in a faraway place of the Solar System, known as Kuiper Belt.