Where will NASA's New Horizons visit now?

As NASA's New Horizons spacecraft barrels past Pluto, engineers on Earth set their sights on a new target even farther away.

Craig Hall | Aug 29, 2015

   

Not even a monthafter New Horizons spacecraftwowed viewers on Earth with crystal-clearphotos of the dwarf planet Pluto, NASAhas shifted its focus as the probe carries onits journey toward the farthest boundariesof the solar system.

According to a report from the Business Standard, NASA recently announced that the next destination for the craftis likely a tiny object in the Kuiper Belt called2014 MU69. The object orbits the sun almosta billion miles further out thanPluto.

The remote Kuiper Belt object, or KPO, was one of two bodies chosenby NASA as a destination for the New Horizons probe. According to scientist John Grunsfeld, the chief of the NASA Science Mission Directorate in Washington, DC, "Even as New Horizons speeds away from Pluto out into the Kuiper Belt, we are looking outward to the next destination for this intrepid explorer."

New Horizons will carry outfour specific maneuvers between the October and Novemberof this year to shift its course toward 2014 MU69. Nicknamed "PT1" for"potential target 1," the probe wouldn't arrive at2014 MU69 until January 1, 2019.

Researchers have their sights set on2014 MU69 because it is very old. It was createdin the same spot where it still orbits the sun, and researchers believe it is made largely of ice. The body has received very little radiationfrom the sun due to its distance from themiddleof the solar system, andscientists are excited to find out what kind of chemicals may have been preserved on the object.

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