Situated in the Kuiper belt, a region of space beyond Neptune's orbit teeming with small icy bodies, Makemake follows an elliptical path around the sun, which takes approximately 310 Earth years to complete. Its orbit is slightly inclined compared to the plane of the solar system, a characteristic shared with other Kuiper belt objects.
With a diameter of about 888 miles (1,430 kilometers), Makemake is smaller than Pluto, but remains one of the largest known dwarf planets. Makemake's surface is dominated by frozen methane, giving it a bright, slightly reddish hue. This surface reflectivity, or albedo, is second only to Enceladus, a moon of Saturn. Makemake is composed of rock and ice and is very cold, with an average temperature of around -405 degrees Fahrenheit (-243 degrees Clesius).
The thin atmosphere of Makemake consists of nitrogen and possibly methane. Interestingly, during Makemake's passage in front of a distant star — an event known as occultation — there was no detection of a significant atmosphere, suggesting it might collapse as the dwarf planet moves away from the sun.