NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has delivered us images of the most distant object seen in space to date, and look! It’s this cute little space puppet, nicknamed Ultima Thule (though they should really come up with another one).
According to the Washington Post, the object is part of the Kuiper Belt and located roughly four billion miles from Earth. Its strange composition is likely on account of two rocks slowly fusing together in the solar system’s early days, promoting the theory that planetary formation occurs slowly, rather than due to catastrophic collision.
“This is exactly what we need to move the modeling work on planetary formation forward,” Cathy Olkin, the mission’s deputy project scientist, told the paper. “Ultima is telling us about our evolutionary history.”
The object—officially called (486958) 2014 MU69, or just MU69—is 21 miles long and about 10 mile wide. It’s technically dark red, but it can still be a space snowman because the usual rules about snowmen do not apply once you’re that deep into space.
As Gizmodo noted, Ultima Thule is actually a terrible nickname. Though it’s Latin for “beyond the known world,” it was known in far-right German mythology to be the origin of the “Aryan race;” later, it was co-opted by the Nazis.
Still, Ultima Thule is only a nickname—the International Astronomical Union will come up with another one down the road. I suggest Ms. Snowma’am, and if that doesn’t work, Space Balls.