NASA's New Horizons Spacecraft is More Than Halfway From Pluto

By Cresswell McCoy | Apr 05, 2017 09:11 AM EDT

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flew past in July 2015 to a distant object known as 2014 MU69. It appears that the spacecraft is now more than halfway from Pluto to its next flyby target. On Sunday NASA officials confirmed that the New Horizons was 486.19 miles beyond Pluto and the same distance to 2014 MU69.

It has been a great achievement for NASA since the spacecraft has successfully completed its journey half way through. It will set the record for the most distant world ever explored in the history of civilization. However, the spacecraft seems to be getting a little slower as it pulls away from the sun's gravity.

The 2014 MU69 is the main objective of the New Horizons extended mission. The mission also includes a broader survey of the Kuiper Belt, the ring of frigid bodies beyond Neptune's orbit. NASA plans to study more than two dozen other objects in the Kuiper Belt in the distance as per Space.

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A team will also measure the charged particle and dust environment across the Belt. The New Horizons spacecraft was the fastest ever launched and it moved out from Earth at around 36,000 mph. Due to the gravity of the sun the probe is now travelling at a speed of 32,000 mph. The spacecraft spent its long journey to Pluto in a sleep mode, but since December 6, 2014 it has been awake pushing its way forward.

NASA team members are planning to put back the New Horizons in hibernation for 157 days beginning from April 7. The spacecraft is around 3.5 billion miles away from Earth and the good news is that all its instruments and systems are in good condition. With this 2014 MU69 mission there will be new discoveries in the Kuiper Belt and in space. NASA officials are eager to looking forward on the New Horizons mission. 

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