NASA says Ultima Thule looks like a snowman. You see BB-8, fancy cheese

The New Horizons view of the distant space rock sparks comparisons to a moose and a Star Wars celebrity.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

Three views of Ultima Thule. The left image is color-enhanced. The center is a higher-resolution image. The image on the right combines the two to give us a clearer view in color.

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Ultima Thule is a primordial remnant of the early solar system. The New Horizons mission flew by the mysterious space rock at the start of the year and NASA revealed Ultima Thule's distinctive two-lobed shape on Wednesday, saying it looks like a snowman. But Frosty isn't its only doppelganger.

Some space fans quickly got on board the snowman train by sharing enhanced images of Ultima Thule with the addition of eyes, a hat and a carrot nose.

Star Wars fans took one look at the contact binary, which was once two separate objects, and knew right away it looks like adorable droid BB-8. Editor Adam Morgan wrote, "You guys this Ultima Thule fellow looks suspiciously familiar."

Fans of fine dairy products will appreciate the comparison of Ultima Thule with Italian Scamorza cheese, which has a noticeable bi-lobed look.

The outline of Ultima Thule could also pass as a stylized number 8.

Twitter user Stu got up close and personal by zooming in on one of the lobes and spotting what could be the shape of a moose. "Well done team! But you're not the first earthlings to reach Ultima Thule. There is clearly a moose on this thing!" Stu wrote. 

The the human tendency to see familiar objects in random shapes, a phenomenon called pareidolia, didn't end there. Someone also thought the smaller lobe looked like a grumpy blobfish face.

Fans of Bloodborne will appreciate how Ultima Thule resembles a spacefaring version of Rom the Vacuous Spider, a boss-level monster from the game.

Food items were a popular comparison, with people seeing the Kuiper Belt object as everything from a peanut to a fried chicken drumstick to melting ice cream and a potato.

Ultimately, Ultima Thule is a pretty cool space rock that could tell us a lot about the early solar system. It's not its fault it also happens to look edible. At 4 billion miles away from the sun, at least it's safe from any human expeditions that would want to try to eat it.

Cosmic dead ringers: 27 super strange-looking space objects

See all photos

NASA turns 60: The space agency has taken humanity farther than anyone else, and it has plans to go further.

'Hello, humans': Google's Duplex could make Assistant the most lifelike AI yet.