MU69 Hazards Search: Approaching MU69


Explanation: For three weeks spanning November to December, a core team of New Horizons scientists analyzed the hundreds of images New Horizons took. Those images were of the flyby target, MU69, and the surrounding space. The images were taken in “4x4” mode, meaning that the 1024 by 1024 pixel images were binned to be 256 x 256 pixels (4 by 4). This binning let our main camera see much fainter than in normal “1x1” mode. The reason: Searching for any hazards that could harm the spacecraft. The decision was made late last week that there were no detectable hazards in our way, such that the prime trajectory was selected (letting us get as close as 3500 km away). But those images also let us see MU69 grow bigger and brighter in our cameras, and it even moved across the background of stars. This animated GIF in this Picture of the Day shows that approach.

Image credit: NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwest Research Institute / Henry Throop