05/17/2019

New Horizons Spots A Spinning ‘Snowman’ Out In Space

12:15 minutes

MU69, one of the reddest objects we’ve explored in the solar system. Credit: NASA

The most happening New Year’s Party of 2019 wasn’t at Times Square or Paris—it was in the small town of Laurel, Maryland, halfway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. There, scientists shared the stage with kids decked out in NASA gear, party hats, and astronaut helmets. They were there to count down not to the new year, but to the New Horizons spacecraft flying by a very distant, very ancient, snowman-shaped object: MU69.

Now, the first haul of data about that mysterious object has returned. They reveal that MU69 is one of the reddest objects we’ve explored in the solar system, built from two skipping-stone-shaped bodies, each the size of small cities. Those details are featured in a cover story in the journal Science. Kelsi Singer, deputy project scientist for NASA’s New Horizons mission, joins Ira to talk about it. 

The New Horizons probe. Credit: NASA

Further Reading:

  • Read the full study with the initial results from the New Horizons exploration of MU69.

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Segment Guests

Kelsi Singer

Kelsi Singer is Deputy Project Scientist for NASA’s New Horizons mission.

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