"I'm here to tell you that last night, overnight, the United States spacecraft New Horizons conducted the farthest exploration in the history of humankind, and did so spectacularly".
That new data should help clear up some outstanding questions scientists still have about this distant object - including whether that bowling pin shape actually masks two closely co-orbiting objects (not one integrated mass), and how long it takes the spinning object to complete a rotation.
After the flyby, New Horizons will map Ultima and determine how many moons it has and find out if it has rings or even an atmosphere.
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has survived humanity's most distant exploration of another world.
"Ultima was formed in the middle of the Kuiper Belt, where temperatures are close to absolute zero, ' wrote Nasa's Alan Stern, New Horizons" principal investigator.
Guests cheer as the New Horizons team members receive signals from the spacecraft that it is healthy.
Ultima Thule is a Kuiper Belt object that sits one billion miles past Pluto. As such, it is "probably the best time capsule we've ever had for understanding the birth of our solar system and the planets in it", Stern said.
The first indication that the spacecraft was safe came at 10:33 a.m. ET, exactly 10 hours after it sailed past Ultima Thule. "From here out the data will just get better and better!"
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Meanwhile, India will be looking to build on the momentum and will leave no stone unturned to make it 3-1 at the SCG. Border heaped praise on India's pace unit, saying: "It's as a good an Indian bowling attack as I've ever seen".
Artist conception of New Horizons Spacecraft.
The program is a collaborative effort between NASA, the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where scientists navigate and control the spacecraft.
NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft broke a record after successfully entering into orbit around the asteroid Bennu - the smallest cosmic object ever to be orbited by a spacecraft. Just hours into the first day of 2019, the New Horizons spacecraft was confirmed to have made its historic flyby of the mysterious Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule without issue.
A few black-and-white pictures might be available within an hour or two of that official confirmation, but the highly anticipated close-up shots won't be ready until later Tuesday or Wednesday, in color, it is hoped.
"Think about it - we're a billion miles further than Pluto."
Stephen Gwyn, an astronomer and data specialist with Canada's National Research Council who is participating in the mission, said the image has already solved one mystery: how the oblong-shaped Ultima Thule can rotate without changing its brightness.
Ultima Thule is named for a mythical, far-northern island in medieval literature and cartography, according to NASA.
As a preserved relic from that original time, Ultima Thule also promises to shed light on the so-called Kuiper Belt, or Twilight Zone, in which hundreds of thousands of objects reside well beyond Neptune.
Bowman takes comfort and pleasure in knowing that long after New Horizons stops working, it "will keep going on and on".
The exact shape and composition won't be known until Ultima Thule starts sending back data in a process expected to last nearly two years.