NASA's faraway space snowman has flat, not round, behind - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

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

Posted: Updated:
(NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute via AP, File). 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, enc... (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute via AP, File). 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, enc...
  • NationalMore>>

  • Obama joined by Curry to tell minority boys 'you matter'

    Obama joined by Curry to tell minority boys 'you matter'

    Wednesday, February 20 2019 10:23 AM EST2019-02-20 15:23:16 GMT
    (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu). Former President Barack Obama, left, hugs Golden State Warriors basketball player Stephen Curry after speaking at the My Brother's Keeper Alliance Summit in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019.(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu). Former President Barack Obama, left, hugs Golden State Warriors basketball player Stephen Curry after speaking at the My Brother's Keeper Alliance Summit in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019.
    (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu). Former President Barack Obama, left, hugs Golden State Warriors basketball player Stephen Curry after speaking at the My Brother's Keeper Alliance Summit in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019.(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu). Former President Barack Obama, left, hugs Golden State Warriors basketball player Stephen Curry after speaking at the My Brother's Keeper Alliance Summit in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019.
    Former President Barack Obama and Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry told minority boys on Tuesday that they matter and urged them to make the world a better place.More >>
    Former President Barack Obama and Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry told minority boys on Tuesday that they matter and urged them to make the world a better place.More >>
  • Chicago prosecutor recuses herself from Jussie Smollett case

    Chicago prosecutor recuses herself from Jussie Smollett case

    Wednesday, February 20 2019 10:06 AM EST2019-02-20 15:06:08 GMT
    (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File). FILE - In this May 20, 2016 file photo, actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC Event in Los Angeles. Chicago police said Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, they're still seeking a follow-up interview with Sm...(Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File). FILE - In this May 20, 2016 file photo, actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC Event in Los Angeles. Chicago police said Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, they're still seeking a follow-up interview with Sm...
    (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File). FILE - In this May 20, 2016 file photo, actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC Event in Los Angeles. Chicago police said Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, they're still seeking a follow-up interview with Sm...(Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File). FILE - In this May 20, 2016 file photo, actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC Event in Los Angeles. Chicago police said Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, they're still seeking a follow-up interview with Sm...
    Chicago police have investigated but dismissed a tip that on the night "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett reported being attacked by two masked men he was in an elevator of his apartment building with two brothers...More >>
    Chicago police have investigated but dismissed a tip that on the night "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett reported being attacked by two masked men he was in an elevator of his apartment building with two brothers questioned in the probe.More >>
  • N. Carolina elections board calls challenged House candidate

    N. Carolina elections board calls challenged House candidate

    Wednesday, February 20 2019 10:06 AM EST2019-02-20 15:06:06 GMT
    (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP, Pool). Mark Harris, Republican candidate in North Carolina's 9th congressional race, listens to testimony during a public evidentiary hearing on the 9th congressional district voting irregularities investiga...(Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP, Pool). Mark Harris, Republican candidate in North Carolina's 9th congressional race, listens to testimony during a public evidentiary hearing on the 9th congressional district voting irregularities investiga...
    (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP, Pool). Mark Harris, Republican candidate in North Carolina's 9th congressional race, listens to testimony during a public evidentiary hearing on the 9th congressional district voting irregularities investiga...(Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP, Pool). Mark Harris, Republican candidate in North Carolina's 9th congressional race, listens to testimony during a public evidentiary hearing on the 9th congressional district voting irregularities investiga...
    The apparent Republican winner of the country's last undecided congressional election is expected to explain why he stuck with a North Carolina political operative with a shady track record that even the GOP...More >>
    The apparent Republican winner of the country's last undecided congressional election is expected to explain why he stuck with a North Carolina political operative with a shady track record that even the GOP candidate thought about protesting in the past.More >>

By MARCIA DUNN
AP Aerospace Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - The faraway space snowman visited by NASA last month has a surprisingly 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. The two-lobed object, nicknamed Ultima Thule, is actually flatter on the backside than originally thought, according to scientists.

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.

"Seeing more data has significantly changed our view," Southwest Research Institute's Alan Stern, the lead scientist, said in a statement. "It would be closer to reality to say Ultima Thule's shape is flatter, like a pancake. But more importantly, the new images are creating scientific puzzles about how such an object could even be formed. We've never seen something like this orbiting the sun."

Project scientist Hal Weaver of Johns Hopkins University, home to New Horizons flight control center, said the finding should spark new theories on how such primitive objects formed early in the solar system.

Ultima Thule - considered a contact binary - is the most distant world ever explored. New Horizons zipped past it at high speed, after becoming the first visitor to Pluto in 2015. Mission managers hope to target an even more distant celestial object in this so-called Kuiper Belt, on the frozen fringes of the solar system, if the spacecraft remains healthy.

New Horizons is already 32 million miles (52 million kilometers) beyond Ultima Thule. It will take another 1 ½ years to beam back all the flyby data.

The spacecraft rocketed from Florida in 2006.

___

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2019 WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms