New Horizons Set To Explore Most Distant Object 2014 MU69 In 5 Years

Posted: Nov 7 2015, 5:35am CST | by , Updated: Nov 7 2015, 11:21pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

New Horizons Set to Explore Most Distant Object 2014 MU69 in 5 Years
Path to a KBO: Projected route of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft toward 2014 MU69, which orbits in the Kuiper Belt about 1 billion miles beyond Pluto. Planets are shown in their positions on Jan. 1, 2019, when New Horizons is projected to reach the small Kuiper Belt object. NASA must approve an extended mission for New Horizons to study the ancient KBO. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

The NASA spacecraft will start journeying 1 billion miles to the KBO after Pluto.

New Horizons by NASA has embarked on its fourth and final journey. The spacecraft by NASA will now travel 1 billion miles to a planet in the Kuiper Belt. The planet is known as a Kuiper Belt Object KBO. New Horizons will now start the journey after having reached Pluto.

The KBO was not the primary target of the New Horizons. Alex Parker recently made the announcement on Twitter. According to Parker after years of searching by him and his team they have finally found a KOB. The New Horizons will therefore travel to the planet.

“New Horizons is healthy and now on course to make the first exploration of a building block of small planets like Pluto, and we’re excited to propose its exploration to NASA,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado.

The final journey of New Horizons was changed to KOB after data on Pluto and its moons was collected. The data collected from New Horizons showed mysterious pocket of frozen ammonia on the Pluto’s side near Charon. Charon is the largest moon in the solar system. The vats of ammonia are situated near the region where water ice is much more common.

New Horizons received a nudge of 57-meter-per-second to steer it to the side. The nudge has sent the New Horizon flying on course to the KBO. The KBO being called the MU69 is the target destination for New Horizons now.

"This is another milestone in the life of an already successful mission that's returning exciting new data every day," said Curt Niebur, New Horizons program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "These course adjustments preserve the option of studying an even more distant object in the future, as New Horizons continues its remarkable journey."

The NASA spacecraft is expected to reach the destination by January 2019. However New Horizons team have a few challenges in the future. The funding for the New Horizons team will expire before the spacecraft reaches the KBO.

The team is planning to submit a formal extended-mission proposal to NASA by 2016. So the mission funding could be extended until the spacecraft reaches its destination.

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