Until recently, researchers described the distant asteroid called Ultima Thule to be a bowling pin in space. But new images taken by a NASA deep space probe revealed that the space rock in question looked more like Frosty the Snowman.
The New Horizons spacecraft passed within thousands of miles of its target on New Year’s Day 2019. The snapshots it took at close range showed that the asteroid is dark red in color.
“Meet Ultima Thule,” announced NASA researcher Alan Stern as he unveiled the latest photos of the asteroid. “That bowling pin is gone. It’s a snowman if anything at all.”
New Horizon was originally tasked with photographing Pluto. It accomplished that mission in 2015, sending back astonishing images of mountains made of nitrogen and volcanoes that blasted ice instead of magma, before heading for its new target.