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Nasa's New Horizons: 'Space snowman' appears squashed

Nasa's New Horizons: 'Space snowman' appears squashed

Science
It seems the "space snowman" is more like a "gingerbread man".Scientists studying the distant object known as Ultima Thule are revising ideas about its shape after examining the latest images downlinked to Earth.The pictures, taken by the New Horizons probe on 1 January, show the apparently bulbous body to be quite flat.This interpretation is evident from the data acquired by the Nasa spacecraft when it looked back at icy Ultima Thule as it zoomed past at 50,000km/h.The small world appears dark apart from a crescent of sunlight along its limb. But scientists can tell from the way background stars blink on and off where its edges are.Rather than being two relatively spherical bodies in contact with each other, Ultima Thule in this...
Nasa's New Horizons: Best image yet of 'space snowman' Ultima Thule

Nasa's New Horizons: Best image yet of 'space snowman' Ultima Thule

Science
The New Horizons probe has sent back its best picture yet of the small, icy object Ultima Thule, which it flew past on New Year's Day.The image was acquired when the Nasa spacecraft was just 6,700km from its target, which scientists think is two bodies lightly fused together - giving the look of a snowman.Surface details are now much clearer. New Horizons' data is coming back very slowly, over the next 20 months.This is partly to do with the great distance involved (the separation is 6.5 billion km) but is also limited by the small power output of the probe's transmitter and the size (and availability) of the receive antennas here on Earth. It all makes for glacial bit rates.The new image was obtained with New Horizons' ...
'Oumuamua: 'space cigar's' tumble hints at violent past

'Oumuamua: 'space cigar's' tumble hints at violent past

Science
The space interloper 'Oumuamua is spinning chaotically and will carry on doing so for more than a billion years. That is the conclusion of new Belfast research that has examined in detail the light bouncing off the cigar-shaped asteroid from outside our Solar System. "At some point or another it's been in a collision," says Dr Wes Fraser from Queen's University. His team's latest study is featured in Sunday's Sky At Night episode on the BBC and published in Nature Astronomy. It is yet another intriguing finding about this strange object that has fascinated scientists since its discovery back in October. 'Oumuamua comes from a different star system. Its path across the sky confirms it does not originate in our solar neighbourhood. Initially, it was thought the object could be a comet, but i...