NASA's faraway space snowman has flat, not round, behind

By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer
SRI/JHU/NASA via CNN

On Tuesday, the first image of the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule taken by the New Horizons spacecraft revealed a bowling pin. On Wednesday, more distinct and color images revealed a snowman.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The faraway space snowman visited by NASA last month has a flat - not round - behind.

New photos from the New Horizons spacecraft offer a new perspective on the small cosmic body 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) away. Scientists say the two-lobed object, nicknamed Ultima Thule, is actually flatter on the backside than originally thought. Pictures released late last week - taken shortly after closest approach on New Year's Day - provide an outline of the side not illuminated by the sun.

When viewed from the front, Ultima Thule still resembles a two-ball snowman. But from the side , the snowman looks squashed, sort of like a lemon and pie stuck together, end to end.

Ultima Thule is the most distant world ever explored.

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