Course set for New Horizons journey to Kuiper belt object

NEXT STOP With Pluto in the rearview mirror, New Horizons is now heading for its next target, a body in the Kuiper belt designated 2014 MU69 (illustrated).

NASA, JHUAPL, SWRI, Steve Gribben

With Pluto checked off its bucket list, New Horizons is now speeding along to its next stop.

On November 4, the spacecraft completed the last of four engine burns designed to point it toward 2014 MU69, a primordial ball of ice deep in the Kuiper belt, the ring of frozen debris that stretches beyond Neptune.

With just 1.45 billion kilometers to go, New Horizons will zip past MU69 on January 1, 2019. That should give NASA plenty of time to formally approve the mission, which the New Horizons team will officially ask them to do in early 2016.

Christopher Crockett is a freelance science writer and editor based in Arlington, Va. He has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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