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Faraway space snowman is pitted and has bright 'collar'

By The News · 25 of January 2019 16:07:57
This Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019 image made available by NASA on Thursday, Jan. 24 shows the Kuiper belt object Ultima Thule, about 1 billion miles beyond Pluto, encountered by the New Horizons spacecraft. It will take almost two years for New Horizons to transmit all the data from the flyby, 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) away. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute via AP), No available, This Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019 image made available by NASA on Thursday, Jan. 24 shows the Kuiper belt object Ultima Thule, about 1 billion miles beyond Pluto, encountered by the New Horizons spacecraft. It will take almost two years for New Horizons to transmit all the data from the flyby, 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) away. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The space snowman visited by NASA on New Year’s Day is pitted all over. It also has a bright “collar” around its two fused spheres.

These are the newest details to emerge about Ultima Thule (TOO-lee), the most distant object ever explored.

A close-up picture taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on Jan. 1 and released Thursday shows lots of little pits on Ultima Thule. They’re less than a half-mile (0.7 kilometers) across. There’s also a much bigger depression on the smaller lobe, considered the snowman’s head. Scientists don’t know if these are impact craters or sinkholes.

Lead scientist Alan Stern promises even better pictures. It will take almost two years for New Horizons to transmit all the data from the flyby, 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) away.