NASA: Icy Object Past Pluto Looks Like Reddish Snowman

LAUREL, Md. (AP) -
A composited image showing Ultima Thule, about 1 billion miles beyond Pluto. (NASA via AP)

A NASA spacecraft traveling 4 billion miles from Earth has sent back its first close-up pictures of the most distant celestial object ever explored, and it looks like a reddish snowman.

Diagram showing the size and shape of the object Ultima Thule. (NASA via AP)

Ultima Thule — as the small, icy object has been dubbed — is an elongated body about 20 miles

long, consisting of two fused-together spheres.

NASA’s New Horizons, the spacecraft that sent back pictures of Pluto 3½ years ago, swept past the ancient, mysterious object early on Jan.1st. It is a billion miles past Pluto.

The pictures from Ultima Thule were revealed Wednesday.

Scientist Jeff Moore says that the two spheres formed when small, icy pieces coalesced in space. Then the spheres slowly spiraled closer to each other and stuck together.

This image shows the size and shape of the object Ultima Thule. (NASA via AP)

Ultima Thule has a mottled appearance the color of light brick. Scientists say no impact craters could be seen in the latest photos.

An earlier, fuzzier image made it look like a bowling pin.