The final photos that NASA's New Horizons spacecraft snapped of Ultima Thule during the probe's epic Jan. 1 flyby reveal the distant object to be far flatter than scientists had thought, mission team members announced today (Feb. 8).
This object is about 21 miles (34 kilometers) long and lies 1 billion miles (1.6 billion km) beyond Pluto's orbit.
Mission team members initially thought Ultima Thule resembles a snowman but now believe the object to be flattened.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
New Horizons took the long-exposure photos about 10 minutes after closest approach; the central frame in the sequence was snapped from a distance of 5,494 miles (8,862 km), mission team members said.