AP — A NASA spacecraft 4 billion miles from Earth yielded its first close-up pictures Wednesday of the most distant celestial object ever explored, depicting what looks like a reddish snowman. Ultima Thule, as the small, icy object has been dubbed, was found to consist of two fused-together spheres, one of them three times bigger than the other, extending about 20 miles 32 kilometers across. It is 1 billion miles 1. On Tuesday, based on early, fuzzy images, scientists said Ultima Thule resembled a bowling pin. But when better pictures arrived, a new consensus emerged Wednesday. It's a snowman!
Space snowman Ultima Thule has bright collar, shows close-up picture taken by NASA
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These are the newest details to emerge about Ultima Thule, the most distant object ever explored. Categorized as a contact binary, the approximately mile-long kilometer-long , reddish Ultima Thule has both light and dark patterns. The brightest spot is where the two lobes connect. Scientists say the varied shading may help explain how the ancient object was formed, as the solar system was emerging 4. Lead scientist Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute promises even better pictures during the next month. It will take almost two years for New Horizons to transmit all the data from the flyby, 4 billion miles 6. At such a vast distance, it takes more than six hours for radio signals to travel one way.
Close-up picture released of space snowman, the most distant object ever explored
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As Arctic conditions crippled Britain's transport network and ruined Christmas getaways for thousands, the sight of a well-rendered snowman could always be relied on to raise a smile. But judging by these stunning photographs from a Chinese winter festival, we should all feel a little ashamed about reaching for a carrot and a scarf to create Frosty on our front lawns. The Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, now in its 27th year, will attract more than , visitors over the next three months and with such artistry on show, it's not hard to see why. The festival, which begins today, features hundreds of activities related to snow and ice in the field of tourism, sports, trade and cultural events. But it's clear that the event's main appeal lies in the incredible displays created by artists from hundreds of tonnes of snow and ice.