First close-ups of Ultima Thule reveal it resembles dark red snowman
Images of rock on the edge of the solar system were taken on the most distant flyby in history
Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft has beamed home its first close-up images of Ultima Thule, a lump of rock the shape of an unfinished snowman that lies 4 billion miles away on the edge of the solar system.
Taken as the probe sped past the body in the early hours of New Year’s Day, the pictures reveal a dark reddish object about 21 miles long and 10 miles wide that spins on its axis once every 15 hours or so. The colour image of Ultima Thule, revealing its reddish tint, was taken at 05.01 GMT on New Year’s Day from a distance of about 18,000 miles, 30 minutes before the probe made its closest pass of the space rock.