NASA extended the mission of the New Horizons probe, which operates in the far reaches of the solar system, until the end of the 2020s.
NASA announced the extension at the end of September. Previously, support for the New Horizons mission was guaranteed until the end of 2024, and with the current extension the mission could continue until the end of the decade, and according to experts, it may leave Kuiper in 2028 or 2029. The most important part of the extended mission will begin in 2025, and from then on The probe will collect solar physical data from the solar system.
In principle, the probe’s flight also allows it to get close to even one other object belonging to the Kuiper Belt. As we’ve regularly reported in previous years, New Horizons flew by Pluto in the summer of 2015, then by the asteroid Arrokoth (formerly known as Ultima Thule) in early 2019. However, getting closer to a better object is only a theoretical possibility for now. , because the object that “falls into” New Horizons’ eyes must be detected, that is, the probe can target it from a small distance.
In the course of its extended mission, NASA’s New Horizons probe can still visit a stellar object belonging to the Kuiper Galaxy, provided it succeeds in finding a suitable target in time. (Conservative Party: Jawabal / Sweiri)
At that time, New Horizons’ fate became uncertain when NASA decided to fund the mission only until 2024. Then we planned to give the mission to NASA’s Heliophysics Division. However, the move was opposed by the mission’s principal investigator, Alan Stern (Southwest Research Institute), who said the decision would make it impossible for the probe to carry out any future planetary exploration activities. Stern described NASA’s plan as brief, and pointed out that New Horizons is the first structure in the history of space exploration to reach the Kuiper region, so it should not be abandoned for testing there.
Following NASA’s recent decision to extend the mission, Stern apologized to the agency and stressed that the Kuiper Year research does not mean the probe will also perform heliophysical observations. In response, NASA said the mission would be jointly funded by NASA’s heliophysics and planetary science divisions, but the focus would be on planetary science. In 2022, NASA spent $9.5 million on the New Horizons mission, and for fiscal year 2024, it plans to spend $9.7 million. NASA also stated that New Horizons’ extension “may impact future missions.”
Solar system research applications
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New Horizons: Timeline