New Horizons is NASA’s spacecraft that flew by Pluto in 2015, and it has recently spotted at the edge of our Solar System its next target. On 16th of August, the first images of the space rock were captured by the distant probe, and it is zooming toward at the moment. It was called Ultima Thule, and it is an icy body measuring 20 miles at least. The New Horizon team came upon a significant milestone, and they will prepare the spacecraft to get to know Ultima Thule probably on New Year’s Day 2019.
Why was this target chosen?
After flying by Pluto, since October 2015 the New Horizons spacecraft has been trying to approach Ultima Thule at a difference of a few months since the last significant event with Pluto from July 2015. After such a success, NASA planned to extend the mission of New Horizons so it will be closer and closer to its new target located in the distant Solar System. The next goal of the spacecraft will be Ultima Thule which is also known as 2014 MU69, and the reason is that the mass is beyond Pluto which is an ideal position. This target was chosen because of its location and because it will not be a big waste of fuel for the rocket to change its course and meet up with its new target.
It leads to even more
As Ultima Thule is an object in the Kuiper Belt, planetary scientists can’t wait for New Horizons to approach it. They think that this target will lead them to how the early days of the cosmic neighborhood were like and to finally visit such an object from the Kuiper Belt for the first time.