NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is now setting its sights on other bodies in our solar system after having had a good visit to Pluto.
The Hubble Space Telescope had already spotted three distant bodies that the spacecraft might possibly visit after finishing a flyby of Pluto in 2015. NASA figures one of the bodies is achievable to visit while the other takes more data and technology to see if it can be reached.
Launched in 2006, the New Horizons craft’s primary mission was to get close to Pluto and photograph it and its moons but the team handling the probe want it to check out other objects way out there in the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt is a region of our solar system that encircles the Sun at a distance farther out than the outer planets like Neptune. The Kuiper Belt is made up of icy bodies, perhaps even undiscovered planets and their moons.
Getting a deep understanding of the objects in the Kuiper Belt might give us an insight into the origins of the solar system. Scientists are so eager to look at these objects way out there because even though they’re far from the Sun, there is evidence of intriguing characteristics that are just to irresistible to NASA.
The Hubble Space telescope was used to find some KBOs or Kuiper Belt Objects and soon several about 15-30 miles in diameter. The objects are so distant that it will take a while for NASA to examine them as they’re scheduled to fly by Pluto in 2015 and the other objects in 2019 but that’s only if NASA gives the go ahead for the funding.
What lies beyond the Kuiper Belt is still a mystery to scientists and the public. Should some new, groundbreaking discover occur then NASA will have a coup for sure.