New Horizons: Exploring Pluto and Beyond

NASA’s New Horizons became the first spacecraft to visit dwarf planet Pluto in July 2015. The far-traveling spacecraft also visited a distant Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule (2014 MU69) – now called Arrokoth – in January 2019. New Horizons is still exploring our solar system and on April 17, 2021, the spacecraft reached a distance of 50 astronomical units (AU) from the sun. (One AU is the average Earth-sun distance — about 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers.) 

Observations from New Horizons are continuing to revolutionize our understanding of solar system objects orbiting far from the sun. The spacecraft’s extreme distance from Earth makes it only the fifth to venture so far from home, the others being Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, and Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. So far, only Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have voyaged so far that they entered interstellar space. According to NASA, New Horizons is expected to enter interstellar space in the 2040s.

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