Monday 11 December 2017

Nasa spacecraft halfway between Pluto and next smaller stop

A Nasa image of Pluto obtained by the New Horizons spacecraft
A Nasa image of Pluto obtained by the New Horizons spacecraft

Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft is now halfway between Pluto and its next much smaller stop.

New Horizons - which reached the milestone this week - is bound for an even more remote object called 2014 MU69.

Like Pluto, the object orbits in our solar system's twilight zone known as the Kuiper Belt, but is barely 1% of its size.

MU69 is nearly one billion miles beyond Pluto.

The spacecraft will swoop past MU69 on January 1 2019. With another 466 million miles remaining, New Horizons will go into hibernation later this week.

Although still zooming along, the spacecraft is slowing down slightly as it gets farther from the sun.

New Horizons arrived at Pluto in 2015, becoming its first visitor from Earth.

Press Association

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