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Geology

Snowman-shaped object on edge of solar system may explain how planets formed, finds Hopkins' New Horizons mission

Snowman-shaped object on edge of solar system may explain how planets formed, finds Hopkins' New Horizons mission

The scientists running NASA’s New Horizons mission showed off the first detailed images Wednesday of an object 4 billion miles away in space. It looked like a blurry, reddish snowman.

Despite that primitive appearance — if not because of it — they said the object nicknamed Ultima Thule could offer profound new insight into how the planets formed more than 4½ billion years ago.

“We should think of New Horizons as a time machine,” said Jeff Moore, the mission’s lead geology and geophysics scientist. The spacecraft “has brought us back to the very beginning of solar system history.”

New Horizons, designed by and managed from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics...

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