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NASA says faraway world Ultima Thule shaped like ‘snowman’

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Four billion miles from the sun floats Ultima Thule, an icy celestial body that NASA scientists announced Wednesday is aptly shaped like a giant snowman.

The first detailed images beamed back from the US agency’s New Horizons mission allowed scientists to confidently determine the body was formed when two spheres, or “lobes,” slowly gravitated towards each other until they stuck together — a major scientific discovery.

The New Horizons spacecraft on Tuesday flew past Ultima Thule, which was discovered via telescope in 2014 and is the farthest and potentially oldest cosmic body ever observed by a spacecraft.

Before that flyby, the only image scientists had was a blurry one showing Ultima Thule’s oblong shape, resembling something like a bowling pin or a peanut.

    NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/AFP / HO NASA rang in the New Year with a historic flyby of the farthest, and quite possibly the oldest, cosmic body ever explored by humankind — a tiny, distant world called Ultima Thule — in the hopes of learning more about how planets took shape

“That image is so 2018… Meet Ultima Thule!” said lead investigator Alan Stern, doing little to hide his joy as he revealed a new sharper image of the cosmic body, taken at a distance as close as 17,000 miles (about 27,000 kilometers) with a resolution of 140 meters per pixel.

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“That bowling pin is gone — it’s a snowman if anything at all,” Stern said during a NASA briefing.

“What this spacecraft and this team accomplished is unprecedented.”

Ultima Thule’s surface reflects light about as much as “garden variety dirt,” he said, as the sun’s rays are 1,600 times fainter there than on Earth.

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The body is roughly 19 miles long and completes its own rotation in about 15 hours. NASA dubbed the larger lobe Ultima, and the other, which is about three times smaller, Thule.

Carly Howett, another researcher of the mission, noted that “we can definitely say that Ultima Thule is red,” perhaps due to irradiation of ice.


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Trump launches furious attack on Washington Post for new report about his racist tweet debacle: ‘Presidential harassment!’

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President Donald Trump launched yet another attack on the Washington Post on Sunday morning, accusing the paper of "Presidential harassment!" for reporting on the fall-out from his racist tweets and his equally racist rally in North Carolina.

Responding to the Post's report that Kellyanne Conway was forced to tell the president that he had set off  a firestorm last Sunday with his tweets attacking four Democratic lawmakers, the president pushed back using his old stand-by: "Fake News."

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Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera turns his back on Trump after racist furor: His ‘critics were much more right than I’

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Deep in a report on the fissures Donald Trump created between himself and some of his defenders, after he launched a racist attack on four Democratic lawmakers that led to an equally racist chant at a North Carolina presidential rally, Fox News contributor Gerald Rivera admitted that he now finds it near impossible to defend the president.

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Panicky Kellyanne Conway was forced to explain to Trump why his Twitter attack on Dem lawmakers was racist: report

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According to a behind-the-scenes report in the Washington Post, senior adviser Kellyanne Conway had to frantically explain to Donald Trump that his tweets attacking four Democratic lawmakers -- all of whom are women of color -- were racist and that he needed to walk them back.

The report states that Trump made the tweets early last Sunday and then was greeted by Conway with bad news after he returned from playing golf.

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