Science

NASA’s New Horizon Spacecraft Is Heading towards Kuiper Belt Object (KBO); To Meet It On 1st January 2019

The downlink came via NASA’s Deep Space Network station in Canberra, Australia. It was the last of the 50-plus total gigabits of Pluto system data transmitted to Earth by New Horizons over the past 15 months.

New Horizons – the interplanetary space probe of NASA that was launched as a part of New Frontiers program of the agency is on the verge of creating new space exploration record, as it has been continued to travel beyond outer regions of the solar system and already has moved almost half of the distance of Pluto, for reaching its new celestial target – a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO).

The craft, which was launched in January 2006, has currently moved 3.5 billion miles ahead of the Earth and after exploring its targeted planet – Pluto, it is now moving towards the Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69. As said by NASA, it will pass the object on 1st January 2019. The probe is taking five hours and 20 minutes for conducting a correspondence trip to the craft from Earth to arrive at it, or vice versa. Back in 2007, while the craft was on its way out to the targeted planet – Pluto, stopped up by neighbouring planet Jupiter to obtain a boost from the gravitational forces, emitted by the giant gas planet of the solar system.

As stated by NASA, the New Horizons will set off a new era of hibernation later this week. As the mission operators at the Maryland-based Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) will put the spaceship into hibernation two hours in advance, the spaceship will be in sleeping condition through the April 7 middle timing marker to MU69. Currently, the spacecraft is 782.45 million kilometres ahead of Pluto and also the same distance from MU69. It is moving towards its next target – Kuiper Belt object (KBO) 2014 MU69 and it will fly past it on 1st January 2019, said NASA in a statement on Monday this week.

“The New Year’s Day of 2019 will be the next big event for us, as New Horizon will pass by the targeted KBO, said Hal Weaver”, the project scientist of New Horizons from APL. “In addition to the MU69, we are now planning to conduct some more studies on over two-dozen other KBOs, located in the distance space and also plan to calculate the charged particle and dust environs all the way through the Kuiper Belt”, added Weaver.

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