Earlier this week, NASA released an update about its New Horizons mission. According to its latest release, the spacecraft just reached a new milestone. As it passed by Pluto, the New Horizons is now well on its way towards 2014 MU69, a Kuiper Belt object, and its next target.
New Horizons Is The Source Of The Latest Spectacular Images Of Pluto
New Horizons left Earth back in 2006. The craft marked its first major milestone back in the summer of 2015, as it reached Pluto. Following this event, it spent 6 months orbiting the planet. During this time, it gathered data on both the dwarf planet and its surrounding moons. Then, as it accomplished this leg of its journey, it left the Pluto system and started heading towards MU69.
This next step depended on its remaining amount of fuel. This will reportedly be enough to carry it towards other KBOs (Kuiper Belt objects). Presently, the craft is about 3.5 billion miles away from the planet. As such, the communication between it and Earth, and vice versa, takes about 5 hours and 20 minutes. This will also continue increasing as the New Horizons sails deeper into space.
On April 02nd, the New Horizons checked off one of its next important milestones. The craft met and passed the halfway point between Pluto and its new target. On the second day of April, it was exactly 486.19 million miles past the dwarf planet and on its way towards 2014 MU69.
In two days time, on April 07th, it should also meet the hallway point in time between the respective points. If all goes according to plan, the craft should reach 2016 MUU69 sometime on New Year’s Day 2019.
“In addition to MU69, we plan to study more than two-dozen other KBOs […] “ this is according to Hal Weaver, a mission scientist.
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