NASA’s space snowman reveals secrets: few craters, no water

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s space snowman is revealing fresh secrets from its home far beyond Pluto.

This Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, file image made available by NASA shows the Kuiper belt object Ultima Thule, about 1 billion miles beyond Pluto, encountered by the New Horizons spacecraft. New photos from the New Horizons spacecraft offer a new perspective on the small cosmic body 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) away. Scientists say the object is actually flatter on the backside than originally thought. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute via AP)

More than a year after its close encounter with the snowman-shaped object, the New Horizons spacecraft is still sending back observations from more than 4 billion miles away.

Astronomers reported Thursday that this cosmic body is relatively smooth with far fewer craters than expected.

It’s also ultrared, or highly reflective, which is commonplace in the faraway Twilight Zone of our solar system known as the Kuiper Belt.

While methane is present, no water has yet been found.

It’s the most distant object ever explored.

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