2014 MU69 is a Kuiper Belt object that orbits the Sun 1.6 billion kilometres (one billion miles) beyond Pluto. Image credit: NASA/APL/SwRI/Steve Gribben
To see in the new year of 2019, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will visit the most distant and primitive object ever explored on the 1 January 2019. This object, known as 2014 MU69, orbits the Sun over four billion miles from Earth and a billion miles beyond the orbit of Pluto. This encounter will offer the first close-up look at a fundamental building block of the Solar System.
“The Voyagers and Pioneers flew through the Kuiper Belt at a time when we didn’t know this region existed,” says Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at Headquarters in Washington. “New Horizons is on the hunt to understand these objects, and we invite everyone to ring in the next year with the excitement of exploring the unknown.”
“Our flyby of MU69 on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day 2019 will be an exciting sequel to the historic exploration New Horizons performed at Pluto in 2015,” adds Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. “Nothing even like MU69 has ever ...