Wednesday , June 16 2021

A picture close to a cosmic snowman, the farthest object ever explored – National

The space snowman visited by NASA on New Year's Eve is everywhere and has a bright "collar" between his two melted spheres.

The ice object, discovered more than a billion kilometers from Pluto, resembles a snowman

These are the latest details of Ultima Thule, the most remote object ever explored.

A close-up shot made by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft just before its closest approach on January 1 and released on Thursday shows very small pits of Ultima Thule. They are less than half a mile (0.7 km). There is also a much larger, round depression of the smaller lobe, considered the snowman's head. Scientists do not know if these are crashing craters or holes.

Categorized as contact binary, the length of about 20 miles (32 kilometers), the reddish Ultima Thule has bright and dark patterns. The brightest place is where the two shovels connect. Scientists say that varied coloration can help explain how the ancient site was formed, as the solar system appeared 4.5 billion years ago.

WATCH: NASA releases new images on a snow-like rock

Leading scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute promises even better shots next month. It will take almost two years for New Horizons to transmit all data from the flight to 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers).

Such a long distance takes more than six hours, while the radio signals travel once. New Horizons is already more than 19 million miles (30.5 million kilometers) beyond Ultima Thule.

Launched in 2006, the spacecraft became the first visitor to Planet Pluto in 2015. Ultima Thule was its second goal. A third destination – even deeper in the so-called Kaiper belt of the frozen fringes of our solar system – may be possible in the 2020s.

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