Science News

NASA: 2014 MU69 Is New Horizons’ Next Galactic Destination

NASA’s New Horizons space exploration team has announced its plans to probe 2014 MU69, a mysterious object which lies 1 billion miles beyond Pluto in a band of asteroids known as the Kuiper Belt.

The main interest in the Kuiper Belt lies in the region’s location — it’s far enough away from the sun so that the objects inside the belt aren’t subjected to the same environmental stresses as more sunward objects, The Washington Post reported.

What results is a collection of space stuff that exists in a cold state, and when it comes to space objects, colder is better for preserving the original state of the object in question.

A map of the proposed route of the New Horizons spacecraft shows a flight path which cuts through a field of asteroids that looks like spilled coffee grounds.

Once the craft reaches 2014 MU69, scientists hope to “get a glimpse” of the various materials which existed at the genesis of our universe.

So opening up that Kuiper ice box can give scientists a glimpse of the building materials present at the dawn of our solar system.

Understanding these building blocks means that researchers may gain insight into how life in the universe evolved in its early years.

CBC News reported this past Monday that the New Horizons spacecraft is the same one which made a flyby of Pluto this past July.

NASA plans to redirect the spacecraft’s route late next month or in early November. New Horizons should arrive at 2014 MU69 on New Year’s Day 2019.

The possibility of gathering data from the object gives scientists “observations that we’ll never learn from Earth,” New Horizons team member John Spencer was quoted as saying.

There’s so much that we can learn from close-up spacecraft observations that we’ll never learn from Earth, as the Pluto flyby demonstrated so spectacularly.

The object’s nickname is PT 1, which stands for “potential target 1”.

Click to comment
To Top

Hi - We Would Love To Keep In Touch

If you liked this article then please consider joing our mailing list to receive the latest news, updates and opportunities from our team.

We don't want an impostor using your email address so please look for an email from us and click the link to confirm your email address.