Thought you'd seen everything there is to Ultima Thule? Check this out: IN STEREO!

3D glasses required... or you can try squinting at the screen

Stereo Ultima Thule
Ultima Thule in Stereo (Parallel View) (credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/National Optical Astronomy Observatory)

The New Horizons scientists have released a fresh 3D image of the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 – also known as Ultima Thule.

While most eyes were on this week's SpaceX shenanigans (spoiler: the Crew Dragon returned to Earth OK) the New Horizons mission combined images taken at slightly different viewing angles to create a "binocular" effect.

Crew Dragon Splashdown

Champagne corks undocked as SpaceX brings the Crew Dragon back to Earth


The images themselves came from the probe's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) from distances of about 28,000km and 6,000km. The gang paired the processed images to create the 3D effect.

While the images taken at 6,000km out afforded a resolution of 33 metres per pixel, the image quality is lower than the earlier set due to a shorter exposure time. The gang, however, reckons that this remains the best stereo view yet of Ultima Thule.

As has become the norm, the team is positively squeaking with excitement at the new imagery. Deputy project scientist John Spencer said: "We have been looking forward to this high-quality stereo view since long before the flyby." Looking at the object in 3D will give scientists a better understanding of the decidedly odd shape of the body.

As of now, the New Horizons probe is 44.30 AU (Astronomical Units) from the Earth and already 0.55 AU beyond Ultima Thule. The round-trip light time stands at 12:16:53. ®

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