Path to a KBO

Explanation: NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has successfully completed the third in a series of four maneuvers propelling it toward an encounter with the ancient Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, a billion miles farther from the sun than Pluto. Capping the series, the fourth and final KBO targeting maneuver is scheduled for Nov. 4. As the New Horizons team learns more about the orbit and location of MU69 — the KBO was only discovered in summer 2014 — it will plan additional maneuvers to refine the path toward the prospective flyby in 2016 and beyond. 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.


Image credit: Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute