NASA New Horizons Kuiper Belt

This image was captured during New Horizon’s historic January 1 flyby of what’s informally known as Ultima Thule (2014 MU69), and is the sharpest view yet of this incredible, ancient object in the far reaches of the solar system. Photographed with a wide-angle Multicolor Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) component of New Horizons’ Ralph instrument, this image was taken when the KBO (Kuiper Belt Object) was 4,200 miles from the spacecraft, at 05:26 UT (12:26 a.m. EST) on Jan. 1 – just seven minutes before closest approach. Read more for another video and additional information.

“Billions of miles away, you can find some of the best-preserved fossils of the beginnings of our solar system. 2014 MU69, also known as Ultima Thule, is one of those relics that has been in a deep freeze all this time, with its orbit virtually unchanged over 4.5 billion years. Circling the Sun in a distant region of icy, rocky bodies called the Kuiper Belt, MU69 may represent the building blocks of Pluto and other planet-like worlds beyond Neptune,” said NASA.