The most distant object ever explored by humanity has appeared in its first ever film.
Stunning new footage shows the far-away object known as Ultima Thule as it tumbles through space, on its way to meet the New Horizons spacecraft that sped past it on New Year's Day.
The video shows the "space snowman" – so named because it is shaped like two spheres joined together – hurtling towards the camera over a series of hours.
Nasa scientists stitched together the animation from a series of photos taken by the agency's spacecraft.
In the video, the small, icy object is shown spinning around like a propeller. It rotates about every 16 hours, with the video showing photos taken over seven hours.
The photos were taken over New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, as the spacecraft made its closest approach to the object. But they were not sent back to Earth until recent days, as part of a series of data dumps that scientists expect to be looking through for years to come.
The New Horizons spacecraft explored Pluto in 2015, providing a series of insights into the still mysterious world. After that, it kept travelling further away from Earth and into the distant reaches of the solar system, where it came upon Ultima Thule.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies