Ultima Thule: Clearest image yet of 'snowman' space rock released by NASA

Listen to New Horizons, Brian May's first solo single in 20 years

Images also revealed that the two lobes have a mottled appearance.

While most of us were popping the corks on bottles of champagne, NASA engineers were holding their breath as they watched the calendar flip to 2019 on the East Coast. But puzzling through the origins of the Solar System using only the final products, like our own Earth, is like trying to discern a recipe from a loaf of fully baked bread: numerous components have already been substantially, and often irreversibly, altered by heat and time. Studying it could offer insights to how Earth and the other planets formed. Cathy Olkin, deputy project scientist, said the object has a rotation period of approximately 15 hours.

Ultima Thule is likely similar to some comets and asteroids that scientists have studied as they pass through the inner solar system.

"I was inspired by the idea that this is the furthest that the Hand Of Man has ever reached", says May.

Besides the improved images, scientists also refined other knowledge of the object. The image was taken when the spacecraft was 28,000 km (18,000 mi) away, or just 30 minutes, away from making its closest approach to Ultima Thule. That created the two bodies seen at Ultima Thule: a larger one, dubbed simply "Ultima", that is 19 kilometers across, and a smaller one, "Thule", 14 kilometers across.

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"I call on all congressmen to help me rescue Brazil from corruption , criminality and ideological submission", he said. On Saturday, he tweeted that he would issue a decree to allow citizens who do not have a criminal record to own guns.

The ice world known as Ultima Thule has finally been revealed. Once engaged, the pair never parted; it appears their union has survived the billions of years since.

The colour of the object is now confirmed as red. "The bowling pin is gone - it's a snowman if anything at all". "That's why we chose it", Stern said during a Wednesday press conference. It is more than a billion kilometres past Pluto, and 6.4 billion kilometres from Earth. The scenario to form such a body is that probably numerous small planetesimals came together in the outer solar system in a small region early on, the two of them more or less nudged together, gently fused by gravity.

Researchers say that the so-called "contact binary" could help yield clues about how other planets formed.

On Tuesday, based on early, fuzzy images taken the day before, scientists said Ultima Thule resembled a bowling pin. And it comes with a vivid choker of brightness encircling its slight neck.

Alan Stern, principal investigator for New Horizons, said: "It is only really the size of something like Washington DC and it is about as reflective as garden variety dirt".

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So, how was Ultima Thule born?

These tantalizing tidbits are only the beginning.

A second shift of scientists worked on the data overnight, presenting more detailed analysis during a science team meeting Wednesday morning.

"I didn't imagine that it could happen", May said. It's something that, instants before, didn't exist in our minds-now it does.

If all goes as planned, New Horizons came within 2,200 miles of the surface of this distant world, at 12:33 a.m.

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