New Horizons Maneuvers Toward Potential Kuiper Belt Target

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Even yet a New Horizons booster hasn’t strictly been authorized to do a flyby of a apart Kuiper Belt Object in about 3 years, a engineering group has now achieved dual maneuvers in a array of 4 to approach a booster towards an ancient and apart KBO named 2014 MU69.

Artist’s sense of NASA’s New Horizons booster encountering a Pluto-like intent in a apart Kuiper Belt. (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Steve Gribben)

Artist’s sense of NASA’s New Horizons booster encountering a Pluto-like intent in a apart Kuiper Belt. (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Steve Gribben)

“Second of 4 engine browns to aim a KBO was finished successfully!! Go New Horizons! Go NASA!” pronounced Principal Investigator Alan Stern on Facebook.

Two some-more browns will start within a subsequent 8 days.

The 25-minute bake on Oct 25 was a largest propulsive scheme ever conducted by New Horizons. The group pronounced that a booster is in glorious health as it continues to broadcast information from a Pluto complement flyby in July. It is now zooming by low space during some-more than 52,000 km/hr (32,000 miles per hour) and it is now about 122 million kilometers (76 million miles) past Pluto and 5.09 billion kilometers (3.16 billion miles) from Earth.

Projected trail of NASA’s New Horizons booster toward 2014 MU69, that orbits in a Kuiper Belt about 1 billion miles over Pluto. Planets are shown in their positions on Jan. 1, 2019, when New Horizons is projected to strech a tiny Kuiper Belt object. NASA contingency approve an extended goal for New Horizons to investigate MU69. Credit: New Horizons team.

Projected trail of NASA’s New Horizons booster toward 2014 MU69, that orbits in a Kuiper Belt about 1 billion miles over Pluto. Planets are shown in their positions on Jan. 1, 2019, when New Horizons is projected to strech a tiny Kuiper Belt object. NASA contingency approve an extended goal for New Horizons to investigate MU69. Credit: New Horizons team.

New Horizons contingency transport about a billion miles to get to 2014 MU69, that is also nicknamed “PT1” (for “Potential Target 1”) and if all continues to go well, a booster is approaching to strech a KBO on Jan 1, 2019.

“2014 MU69 is a good choice since it is only a kind of ancient KBO, shaped where it orbits now, that a Decadal Survey preferred us to fly by,” Stern pronounced behind in Aug 2015 when a aim was announced. “Moreover, this KBO costs reduction fuel to strech [than other claimant targets], withdrawal some-more fuel for a flyby, for subordinate science, and incomparable fuel pot to strengthen opposite a unforeseen.”

The 2003 National Academy of Sciences’ Planetary Decadal Survey endorsed that a initial goal to a Kuiper Belt embody flybys of Pluto and tiny KBOs, in sequence to representation a farrago of objects in that formerly unexplored segment of a solar system. PT1 is a totally opposite category of KBO than Pluto.

New Horizons has hydrazine-fueled thrusters, and it carries adequate fuel for a flyby, though a group unequivocally wants to have a other dual maneuvers carried out as scheduled on Oct. 28 and Nov. 4, in sequence to make a fuel final as prolonged as possible.

The New Horizons group will contention a grave offer to NASA for a KBO flyby in early 2016. NASA officials have pronounced a discussions on either to approve this extended goal will take place in a incomparable context of a heavenly scholarship portfolio, i.e., to see if it fits in a budget.

Given a success of a Pluto complement flyby, and a success so distant of a maneuvers to send a booster to PT1, it would be a grave mistake not to take advantage of this opportunity.

Source: Universe Today, created by Nancy Atkinson