'Snowman' shape of distant Ultima Thule revealed

'Snowman' shape of distant Ultima Thule revealed

New Horizons completed the farthest flyby in history when it came within about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) of Ultima Thule at 12:33 a.m. EST on January 1, zooming past the object at more than 32,000 miles (51,000 kilometers) per hour.

Color imagery shows that Ultima Thule is a distinct red color with a bowling pin shaped body.

NASA got the first pictures from the interplanetary probe, New Horizons, has successfully flown past the most remote of the known objects in the Solar system.

A flyby of Ultima Thule, a small, icy world located in the outer reaches of the Solar system, has been successfully completed by NASA's New Horizons probe.

Ultima Thule is deep within the so-called Kuiper Belt, or Twilight Zone, well beyond the orbit of Neptune. The object, which is one of the farthest we've ever identified, was encountered by the spacecraft a staggering 6.5 billion kilometers from Earth. In a lengthy update by the New Horizons team, the group boasts that New Horizons sent back a signal to its handlers letting them know that it had filled its on-board recorders with a wealth of science data that it collected as it zoomed past Ultima Thule.

Scientists had not discovered Ultima Thule when the probe was launched, according to NASA, making the mission unique in that respect.

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Ultima Thule is situated in the Kuiper Belt, a distant region of the Solar System.

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory designed, built, and operates the New Horizons spacecraft, and manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. It will keep pressing farther out, observing other objects from afar, and measuring dust and particles.

"This flyby is a historic achievement", New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said in a statement. The Southwest Research Institute is leading the New Horizons science team and payload operations. Data transmission resumes January 10, starting a 20-month download of the spacecraft's remaining scientific revelations.

Less than 1% of all the data gathered by New Horizons during the flyby has been downlinked to Earth.

Fox News' Christopher Carbone and the Associated Press contributed to this article.