"Studying Ultima Thule is helping us understand how planets form - both those in our own solar system and those orbiting other stars in our galaxy", Moore said.
He debuted it at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., early New Year's Day.
About the size of a city, Ultima Thule has a mottled appearance and is the color of tiresome brick, probably because of the effects of radiation bombarding the icy surface, with brighter and darker regions.
Ultima Thule, as the small, icy object has been dubbed, was found to consist of two fused-together spheres, one of them three times bigger than the other, extending about 21 miles (33 kilometers) in length.
These new images were taken from 27,000km away, almost 1/18th of the previous distance, and are clear enough to confirm that Ultima Thule is one body consisting of two connected spheres. The remaining two lobes formed Ultima Thule, and with its material we have a window into the early solar system.
New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern was proud of what the men and women behind the scenes accomplished.
Our first look at Ultima Thule was little more than a smudge.
"That image is so 2018". These illustrations (from James Tuttle Keane) show how Ultima Thule was formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago.
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New Horizons scientists were surprised by Ultima Thule's binary composition, and the team has spent the past day trying to figure out how the object formed. Then the spheres slowly spiraled closer to each other until they gently touched - as slowly as parking a auto here on Earth at just a mile or two per hour - and stuck together.
The pictures from Ultima Thule were revealed on Wednesday. "The data we have look fantastic and we're already learning about Ultima from up close". Here, it's unclear if Ultima is a single, peanut-shaped object or two objects stuck together.
The new images, taken during the New Year's flyby, are the first to confirm that Ultima Thule's teeny waistline is more a juncture than an hourglass.
Slowing turning, they eventually touched at each other at what mission geology manager Jeff Moore called an "extremely slow speed" - maybe just one to a few miles per hour.
The images are obviously very low in resolution, and it's not immediately clear if or when we'll get a better glimpse of the rock, but New Horizons still has a lot of data to beam back to Earth.
"When I first saw the images, I think I probably said "wow" a million times", says Anne Verbiscer, New Horizons' assistant project scientist.
We will never forget this moment.