Nasa’s New Horizons: ‘Snowman’ shape of distant Ultima Thule revealed

By Jonathan Amos BBC Science Correspondent

Science and Environment

NASA/JHU-APL/SWRIThe "snowman"

The “snowman” completes a full rotation every 15 hours

The ice world known as Ultima Thule has finally been revealed.

A new picture returned from Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft shows the little world to be two objects joined together – to give a look like a “snowman”.

The US probe’s images acquired as it approached Ultima hinted at the possibility of a double body, but the first detailed picture from Tuesday’s close flyby confirms it.

New Horizons encountered Ultima 6.5 billion km from Earth.

The event set a record for the most distant ever exploration of a Solar System object. The previous mark was also set by New Horizons when it flew past the dwarf planet Pluto in 2015.

But icy Ultima is 1.5 billion km further out.

It orbits the Sun in a region of the Solar System known as the Kuiper belt – a collection of debris and dwarf planets.

There are hundreds of thousands of Kuiper members like Ultima, and their frigid state almost certainly holds clues to how all planetary bodies came into being some 4.6 billion years ago.

The mission team thinks the two spheres that make up this particular object probably joined right at the beginning, or very shortly after.

The scientists have decided to call the larger lobe “Ultima”, and the smaller lobe “Thule”. The volume ratio is three to one.

Jeff Moore, a New Horizons co-investigator from Nasa’s Ames Research Center, said the pair would have come together at very low speed, at maybe 2-3km/h. He joked: “If you had a collision with another car at those speeds you may not even bother to fill out the insurance forms.”

NASA/JHU-APL/SWRIBrightness variations
Overall, Ultima Thule is dark, but there is quite a bit of brightness variation
One of the probe’s instruments recorded the colour (L) which has been laid over the high-resolution B&W image (C) to produce a combination (R)

The new data from Nasa’s spacecraft also shows just how dark the object is. Its brightest areas reflect just 13% of the light falling on them; the darkest, just 6%. That’s similar to potting soil, said Cathy Olkin, the mission’s deputy project scientist.

It has a tinge of colour, however. “We had a rough colour from Hubble but now we can definitely say that Ultima Thule is red,” added colleague Carly Howett.

“Our current theory as to why Ultima Thule is red is the irradiation of exotic ices.” Essentially, its surface has been “burnt” over the eons by the high-energy cosmic rays and X-rays that flood space.

The New Horizons team is celebrating an extraordinary achievement

Principal Investigator Alan Stern paid tribute to the skill of his team in acquiring the image as New Horizons flew past the object at 3,500km at closest approach.

The probe had to target Ultima very precisely to be sure of getting it centre-frame in the view of the cameras and other instruments onboard.

“[Ultima’s] only really the size of something like Washington DC, and it’s about as reflective as garden variety dirt, and it’s illuminated by a Sun that’s 1,900 times fainter than it is outside on a sunny day here on the Earth. We were basically chasing it down in the dark at 32,000mph (51,000km/h) and all that had to happen just right,” he said.

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Less than 1% of all the data gathered by New Horizons during the flyby has been downlinked to Earth. The slow data-rates from the Kuiper belt mean it will be fully 20 months before all the information is pulled off the spacecraft.

NASA/JHU-APL/SWRIThe "snowman"
New Horizons profile

What’s so special about the Kuiper belt?

Several factors make Ultima Thule, and the domain in which it moves, so interesting to scientists.

One is that the Sun is so dim in this region that temperatures are down near 30-40 degrees above absolute zero – the lower end of the temperature scale and the coldest atoms and molecules can possibly get. As a result, chemical reactions have essentially stalled. This means Ultima is in such a deep freeze that it is probably perfectly preserved in the state in which it formed.

Another factor is that Ultima is small (about 33km in the longest dimension), and this means it doesn’t have the type of “geological engine” that in larger objects will rework their composition.

And a third factor is just the nature of the environment. It’s very sedate in the Kuiper belt.

Unlike in the inner Solar System, there are probably very few collisions between objects. The Kuiper belt hasn’t been stirred up.

New Horizons’ Principal Investigator Alan Stern said: “Everything that we’re going to learn about Ultima – from its composition to its geology, to how it was originally assembled, whether it has satellites and an atmosphere, and that kind of thing – is going to teach us about the original formation conditions in the Solar System that all the other objects we’ve gone out and orbited, flown by and landed on can’t tell us because they’re either large and evolve, or they are warm. Ultima is unique.”

Solar System
Presentational white space

What does New Horizons do next?

First, the scientists must work on the Ultima data, but they will also ask Nasa to fund a further extension to the mission.

The hope is that the course of the spacecraft can be altered slightly to visit at least one more Kuiper belt object sometime in the next decade.

New Horizons should have just enough fuel reserves to be able to do this. Critically, it should also have sufficient electrical reserves to keep operating its instruments into the 2030s.

The longevity of New Horizon’s plutonium battery may even allow it to record its exit from the Solar System.

The two 1970s Voyager missions have both now left the heliosphere – the bubble of gas blown off our Sun (one definition of the Solar System’s domain). Voyager 2 only recently did it, in November.

And in case you were wondering, New Horizons will never match the Voyagers in terms of distance travelled from Earth. Although New Horizons was the fastest spacecraft ever launched in 2006, it continues to lose ground to the older missions. The reason: the Voyagers got a gravitational speed boost when they passed the outer planets. Voyager-1 is now moving at almost 17km/s; New Horizons is moving at 14km/s.

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The BBC’s Sky At Night programme will broadcast a special episode on the flyby on Sunday 13 January on BBC Four at 22:30 GMT. Presenter Chris Lintottwill review the event and discuss some of the new science to emerge from the encounter with the New Horizons team. and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos

Nigeria Army Declares Man Wanted For Fake Fundraising Campaign


The Nigerian Army says it is working with the international police to extradite a Nigerian in Diaspora, Perry Brimah back to the country for prosecution.

Army spokesman, Brigadier General Sani Usman says Brimah is wanted for launching a criminal fund raising campaign.

The suspect has opened a Go Fund Me Account to plead for funds to feed Nigerian Soldiers.

Usman says the campaign is “to defraud unsuspecting members of the public especially the international community to fund subversive activities and personal life style. “

He also insisted that the Nigerians soldiers across the country do not lack logistics or food and are not in need of any funds.

“We wish to state that the Nigerian soldiers deployed in the North East or elsewhere, neither lack logistics nor food as the fraudster wants unsuspecting members of the public to believe. The Nigerian Army never faltered in providing necessary logistics to troops to the extent of providing extras especially during festive periods. Therefore, this move by Doctor Brimah is nothing but a scam as there is nowhere in the world where troops were fed through donations by members of the public”  the statement continued.

“We would like to further state that there has never been complaints of lack of food by soldiers talk-less of starvation. The so called Dr Perry Brimah or his agents do not represent the Nigerian Army or her soldiers. Whoever believes and falls victim to this criminal act does so at his or her own risk. In addition, the Nigerian Army in conjunction with the Interpol are working hard to declare him wanted and extradite the International fraudster to face justice. Therefore, we request the general public for any information on the whereabouts of this fraudster.”

See Full List Of APC Women And Youth Presidential Campaign Team

Latest News Women and Youth Presidential Campaign Team

The media aide to Aisha Buhari, wife of President Muhamamdu Buhari, Suleiman Haruna, has released the full list of members constituting the ‘Women and Youth Presidential Campaign Team’ for the All Progressives Congress, APC.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Haruna said, “The team will be inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, 3rd January, 2019 at the State House Conference Center by 2.00pm.”

The team will be supporting the reelection bid of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in 2019.

See the full list below.


1. H.E Dr. Mrs. Aisha Buhari ……………… Chairperson

2. H.E Mrs. Oludolapo Osinbajo …………… Co-chair

3. H.E. Mrs. Adejoke O. Adefulure ………. Vice Chair (South)

4. H.E. Mrs. Mairo Al-Makura…………… Vice Chair (North)

5. Haj. Salamatu Baiwa Umar – Eluma……… National Coordinator

6. Barr. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagu ……….. Dep. Nat. Coordinator – South

7. Haj. Binta Muazu …………………….. Dep. Nat. Coordinator – North


1. H.E. Mrs. Rashida Bello……………… North Central

2. H.E. Mrs. Hadiza M. Abubakar………… North East

3. H.E. Dr. Zainab Bagudu……………. … North West

4. H.E. Mrs. Nkechi Rochas Okorocha South East

5. H.E. Mrs. Florence Ajimobi…… …… South West

6. H.E. Mrs. Judith Chibuike Amaechi … South South


1. Dr. Hajo Sani

2. Dr. Nasir Ladan

3. Zainab Kassim

4. Rose Audu

5. Fatima Rafindadi

6. Dr. Nasiru Ajoge


1. Solomon Dalung

2. Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd)

3. IGP Suleiman Abba (Rtd)

4. Brig. General Lawal Jafaru Isa

5. General Abubakar Alkali

6. General Buba Marwa

7. H.E Sen. Ali Modu Sherrif

8. H.E Orji Uzo Kalu

9. Dr. Mohammed Mahmud

10. H.E. Dame Pauline Tallen

11. Haj. Naajatu Mohammed

12. Professor Pat Utomi

13. Dr. Nasiru Ladan

14. Col. Abdallah (Rtd)

15. AIG Sani Ahmed Daura (Rtd)

16. Prince Tonye Princewill

17. Festus Keyamo SAN

18. Muiz Banire SAN

19. Barr. Obla

20. Amb. Justice Muhammadu Dodo

21. Amb. Mohammadu Rimi Barade

22. Amb. Aminu Dalhatu

23. Amb. Aminu Iyawa

24. Amb. Baba Jidda

25. Amb. Yusuf Tuggar

26. Amb. Deborah Iliya

27. Amb. Suzanne Aderonke Folarin

28. Amb. Ayuba Ngbako

29. Amb. Oji Nyimenuate

30. Mr.Terry Waya

31. Rear Admiral Dutse James

32. Alh. Bashir Ibrahim

33. Alh. Nasiru Danu Dan Amanar Dutse

34. Al Amin Kamselem

35. H.E Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi

36. Engr. Ife Oyedele

37. Ibrahim Dasuki Nakande

38. Gen. India Garba

39. Hon. Kawu Sumaila

40. Hon. Umar Dambo

41. Senator Abu Ibrahim

42. Chief Sam Sam Jaja

43. Colonel Mohammed Abdul (Rtd)

44. Engr. Samuel Ajagbe

45. Hon. Igo Aguma

46. Chief Precious Osaro Ngelale

47. Saleh Ahmadu

48. Alh. Bello Isa Bayero

49. Chief Felix Idiga

50. Dr. Noble Abe

51. Patrick Pascal

52. Longes Anyawu

53. Barr. Honor Ihuoma Onyebuchukwu

54. Yusuf Adamu

55. Yewande Amusan

56. Engr. Umar Abubakar

57. Rilwanu Umar

58. Alh. Mohammed Sani Musa

59. Agatha Benson

60. Alh. Rabiu Isyaku Rabiu

61. Hon. Ahmed Wadada

62. Chief Rapheal Ikurusi Sambo

63. Saidu Uba Malami

64. Sani Sarkin Gobir

65. Gambo Lawan Kareto

66. Suleiman Umar

67. Dr. Cairo Ojougboh

68. Chief Emma Ejiofo

69. Dr. Betty Nnadi

70. M.B. Shehu

71. Bello Waziri

72. Chief I. Mokelu Onwa

73. Amb. Fatima Adfa

74. Gbemi Saraki

75. Wada Ibrahim Kawu

76. Mrs. Fatima Balla

77. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagu

78. Sen. Abubakar Umar Gada

79. Faruk Salim

80. H.E Sullivan Chime

81. Sen. Ovie Omoagege

82. Rt. AVM Terry Okorodudu

83. Hadi Ukashatu

84. Mustapaha Habib

85. Comrd. Garba Mustapha (4+4)

86. Dr. Macaulay Aigbe Ojeaga

87. Alh. Gambo Lawan Kareto

88. Ahmed Gulak

89. Jessica Ine

90. Sen. Ini Okori

91. Scott Tommy

92. Alh. Bashir Ibrahim

93. Maimo Mohammed

94. Sen. Andy Uba

95. Alh. Sani Anka

96. Iro Dan Puloti

97. Engr. Iliya Saleh

98. Sen. Bello Tukur

99. All APC SSAs, SAs, PAs, to the President


1. Dr. Mohammed Mahmud

2. Haj. Salamatu Beiwa Umar Eluma

3. Dr. Nasir Ladan

4. Dr. Ibrahim Dauda

5. Bala Usman

6. Barr. Mary Eta

7. Haj. Sadiya Farouk

8. Eng. Aliyu Aziz

9. Hadi Uba

10. Dr. Kamal Mohammed

11. Zainab Kassim

12. All APC Women Leaders at all levels

13. All APC Women/Female Heads of government agencies and Parastatals

14. All APC Female Candidates

15. All APC Youth leaders at all levels


At all levels


Director: Hon. Nasiru Ali Ahmed

Dep. Director: Barr. Mary Etta

1. Mrs. Alayangi Sylva

2. Mrs. Unoma Akpabio

3. Mrs. Saida Bugaje

4. Ms. Joy Nunieh

5. Mrs. Olufunsho Amosun

6. Haj. Nana Shettima

7. Mrs. Sherifat Aregbesola

8. Chief. Kemi Nelson

9. Mrs. Umana Umana

10. Haj. Zuwaira Bakori

11. Hon. Ahmed Rufai

12. Alh. Mohammed Nma Kolo

13. Mrs. Nsidem Roberts

14. Barr. Mohammed Bello Mustapha

15. Barr. Kabiru Dodo

16. Haj. Ladidi Bawa Bosso

17. Fatima Mohammed Faruk

18. Sam Edem

19. Jonah Okah

20. Halima Buba

21. Hindatu Danmalam

22. Sadiq Ahmed

23. Terfa Robert Swem

24. Mrs. Abdul Aziz Yaradua

25. Maimuna Yahya Abubakar

26. Saadatu Dogon Bauchi

27. Iman Suleiman Ibrahim

28. Hafsat Musa

29. Zainab Buba Marwa

30. Alh. Al Amin Kamselem

31. Ibrahim Mo Allah Yidi

32. Salamatu Jibril

33. Hon. Inna Galadima

34. Lydia Gora

35. Hon. Asabe Vilita

36. Hailmary Aipoh

37. Maryam Salihu

38. Hussaina Kurfi

39. Salima Makama

40. Daniel Amokachi

41. Tina Adike

42. Zainab Jafaru Isa

43. Shattu Bazza

44. Laila Danbatta

45. Aisha Gana

46. Halima Ben Umar

47. Dr Salma Kolo

48. Haulatu Yahaya Karami

49. Amina Abdu

50. Mrs Ali Adamu

51. Hauwa Abdu

52. Kareen Mohammed

53. Mrs. Hadiza DanBazzau

54. Mrs. Yasmine Dalhatu

55. Mrs. Aisha A. Malami

56. Mrs. Indo Rimi

57. Aisha Dada Ismail

58. Mrs Mary Paul

59. Barr. Murtala Isa

60. Aliyu Ibrahim

61. Musa M/Madori

62. Muhammad Albashir

63. Baffa Saleh

64. Zarau Wali

65. Halima Yauri

66. Kabiru Kamba

67. Abba Allero

68. Princess Aderemi Adebowale

69. Chief Sade

70. Jamil Abiola

71. Helen Bendiga

72. Mrs. Bariyaah Magnus Abe

73. Mrs. Elima Peterside

74. Mrs. Modupe Oguntade

75. Barr. Zubaida Damaka

76. Hon. Amina Dalhatu

77. Jamila Adodo

78. Barr. Tala Anthony

79. Dr. Mike Whelagi

80. Dr Safiya Mohammed

81. Alhaji. Naim Bawan Allah

82. Belema Dikibo

83. Tunde Amady

84. Ibrahim Audu Mato

85. Ibrahim Bagudu

86. Mohammed Albashir

87. Hon. Enyi C. Enyi

88. Minabowan Baro

89. Muhammad Sale

90. Etito Emmanuel

91. Osivwe Otega

92. Collins Mukoro

93. Haj. Ambaru Sani Wali

94. Jelili Adams

95. Hon. Mrs Lorember

96. Hon. Sara Kegnen

97. Hon. Ann Itodo

98. Hon. Ojonugwa Achimugu

99. Hon. Abdullahi Musa

100. Iyabo Adebisi

101. Alhaja Laide

102. John Taiwo

103. Hon. Ambali Abiodun

104. Eleojo Veronica Sadiq

105. Abisetu Ozioma Salihu

106. Sefia Abbas

107. Hon. Omotayo Oduntan Oyeledu

108. Hon. Akinpelu Johnson

109. Evang. Caroline Nagbo

110. Victoria Olowoleni Tayo

111. Abdulkarim Fatima Allah Dey

112. Princess Joy Oguche

113. Haj. Rakiya Ahmed

114. Amina Mohammed (Lentena)

115. Dr. Sam Ankeli

116. Haj. Fatima Danjuma Goje

117. Hon. Comfort Alege

118. Fatima Mohammed ( Mama GMB)

119. Jamilu Yusuf

120. Uche Franklin Opara

121. Charles Akabueze

122. Barr. Aliyu Yusuf Shehu

123. Hon. Mustapha Fanarambe

124. Ali Manchester

125. Balaraba Madugu

126. Eng. Arafat S Yero

127. Hon. Nasiru Maikano

128. Sani Aliyu

129. Abdullahi M Bature

130. Haj. Rabi Gambari

131. Maryam Garba Bagel

132. Haj. Nana Fatima Tsokwa

133. Hon. Micky Kassim

134. Hon. Abdullahi Mahmud Gaya

135. Hon. Magaji Dau

136. Hon. Ayo Omidiran

137. Hon. Mohd Tahir Mongunu

138. Hon. Haliru Jika

139. Hon. Raph Nanna

140. Hon. Abdullahi Kontagora

141. Hon. Aliyu Betara

142. Hon. Peter Akpatason

143. Hon. Samaila Sulaiman

144. Hon. Abu Sarkin Yamma

145. Hon. John Dyegh

146. Hon. Austine Chukwu

147. Ibrahim Shehu Naira

148. Yusuf Danladi

149. Alh. Hussaini Baba

150. Otunba Bimbo Ashiru

151. Arc. Ranti Odesile

152. Fatima Mohammed

153. Iliyasu Hamidu

154. Hajiya Rabi Ishaq

155. Shamsuddeen Giwa

156. Onyemauche Nnamani

157. Dr. Ike Odikpo

158. Mathew Iduriyekenwen

159. Chief Jerry Joe

160. Dakuku Peterside

161. Dame Julie Okwah – Donli

162. Stella Okotete

163. Kabiru Kamba

164. Chief Ezekiel imiya

165. Sadiq Yamaltu

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