The world was congratulating NASA after its New Horizons spacecraft successfully passed space object Ultima Thule on 1 January some four billion miles from Earth.  The spacecraft then began slowly relaying images of the body located in the Kuiper Belt beyond Pluto, back to Earth.  And the photos were a surprise.  The body is in fact two bodies conjoined making Ultima Thule look like a “snow man”.

The first colour image of Ultima Thule, taken at a distance of 85,000 miles (137,000 km) at 0408 GMT on 1 January, 2019. At left is an enhanced coloUr image taken by the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC), produced by combining the near infrared, red and blue channels. The centre image taken by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) has a higher resolution. The right image has the colour overlaid onto the LORRI image to show the color uniformity of the Ultima and Thule lobes. Courtesy: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute