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

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – 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.

FILE- This Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, file image made available by NASA shows the Kuiper belt object Ultima Thule, about 1 billion miles beyond Pluto, encountered by the New Horizons spacecraft. 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 object is actually flatter on the backside than originally thought. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute via AP, File)
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