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.

Segment Guests

Kelsi Singer

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

Meet the Producers and Host

About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata was Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.

About Ira Flatow

Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science FridayHis green thumb has revived many an office plant at death’s door.

Explore More

On Pluto’s Doorstep

How did the New Horizons team wake up the spacecraft before it flew by Pluto? With a Star Trek theme song, of course.

Read More