An anxious spill-over crowd in a nearby auditorium joined in the loud celebration.
The New Horizons probe reached the closest point of its flyby at 05:33 British time on New Year's Day, passing Thule at more than 30,000 miles per hour and coming within 2,200 miles of the surface of the 19 mile-wide object. Once received, the signals confirmed that the flyby had taken place and that New Horizons was operating perfectly.
A Nasa explorer is believed to have reached the solar system's outermost region early today morning, flying close to a space rock 32km long and billions of kilometres from Earth on a mission to gather clues about the creation of the solar system. The team delayed the transmission so it didn't interfere with any observations so it was a full ten hours later before the probe could confirm that the mission was a success.
"Reaching Ultima Thule from 4 billion miles away is an incredible achievement", Adam Hamilton, president and CEO of the Southwest Research Institute, said in the statement. "Thousands of operations on board the spacecraft had to work correctly in order for us to be able to tell you this, and now we know that it all did".
Ultima Thule as an elongated blob.
"Congratulations to NASA's New Horizons team, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and the Southwest Research Institute for making history yet again", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.
This tiny, icy body has remained largely unchanged since the solar system's birth roughly five billion years ago, providing astronomers a kind of time capsule of conditions from that era.
He called it an auspicious beginning to 2019, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's footsteps on the moon in July 1969.
4.8 magnitude natural disaster hits Sicily
Mount Etna has been particularly active since July, with experts in Italy saying the volcano has been growing faster recently. Debris sits on the street in front of a heavily damaged house in Fleri, Sicily Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018.
So what is Ultima Thule? In the meantime, they have released the closest image taken of Ultima just before the flyby.
The rewards will come over the next 20 months as New Horizons slowly transmits the estimated seven gigabytes of data collected during the flyby. Traveling at 31,500 miles per hour (50,700 kph), the spacecraft could easily be knocked out by a rice-size particle. When a solid radio link finally was acquired and team members reported that their spacecraft systems were green, or good, she declared with relief: "We have a healthy spacecraft". "What we're going to get next is the stuff that we didn't expect", Dr. Gwyn said. New Horizons rocketed from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2006.
The risk added to the excitement.
May says Alan Stern, the Project Instigator of the NASA Mission, who approached him in May about writing a special song. "This is completely unknown territory".
Ultima Thule was first discovered in 2014 with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope.
The new year on Earth began with a record-setting space mission 4 billion miles away - a first look at an object on the edge of our solar system. "It's fantastic", Stern said at a news conference. Although not the official name for MU69, the title Ultima Thule was selected from an online naming contest that translates to "beyond the known world". It is thought to be the shape of a potato and dark in color with a touch of red, the result of being zapped by cosmic rays for eons.
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.