Research Article

The geology and geophysics of Kuiper Belt object (486958) Arrokoth

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Science  13 Feb 2020:
aay3999
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay3999

Abstract

The Cold Classical Kuiper Belt, a class of small bodies in undisturbed orbits beyond Neptune, are primitive objects preserving information about Solar System formation. In January 2019, the New Horizons spacecraft flew past one of these objects, the 36-km long contact binary (486958) Arrokoth (provisional designation 2014 MU69). Images from the flyby show that Arrokoth has no detectable rings, and no satellites (larger than 180 m diameter) within a radius of 8000 km. Arrokoth has a lightly-cratered smooth surface with complex geological features, unlike those on previously visited Solar System bodies. The density of impact craters indicates the surface dates from the formation of the Solar System. The two lobes of the contact binary have closely aligned poles and equators, constraining their accretion mechanism.

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