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The PI’s Perspective: Why Didn’t Voyager Explore the Kuiper Belt?

28 Feb 2018, 19:51 UTC
The PI’s Perspective: Why Didn’t Voyager Explore the Kuiper Belt? NASA

New Horizons is in good health and cruising closer each day to our next encounter, an end-of-the-year flyby of the Kuiper Belt object (KBO) 2014 MU69 (or “MU69” for short). Currently, the spacecraft is hibernating while the mission team plans the MU69 flyby. During hibernation, three of the instruments on New Horizons—SWAP, PEPSSI and SDC—collect data every day on the charged particle, ionized plasma and dust environment in the Kuiper Belt at a solar distance of 41-42 astronomical units (AU), where our spacecraft is traveling. (1 AU is the distance from the Earth to the Sun, about 93 million miles or 140 million kilometers; for comparison, Pluto is about 34 AU from the Sun, so we’re about 750 million miles farther out than Pluto now.)

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