New Horizons has its next target!

The New Horizons team has selected the second target for the probe: a Kuiper Belt Object with the provisional designation 2014 MU69 that orbits about a billion miles further out than Pluto.  The object, which the team refers to as PT1 (“Potential Target 1”), is a different sort of object from Pluto, so should be valuable from a scientific perspective, rather than a rehash of the Pluto encounter.  This object was discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope last year during its survey for potential New Horizons targets, so this is a rare thing indeed: an object discovered *after* a mission was launched to it, and only discovered *because* a mission had been launched to it.  It’s a small little object, just thirty miles across, which highlights the impressive capabilities of the Hubble to spot it at such extreme range.  If the mission extension is approved (and it almost certainly will be, next year), New Horizons will encounter this tiny world on New Year’s Day of 2019.

At least we don’t have to wait as long for this one as we did for Pluto.  😉

NASA’s New Horizons Team Selects Potential Kuiper Belt Flyby Target


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