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The View from the Kuiper Belt

13 Feb 2018, 16:04 UTC
The View from the Kuiper Belt NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.

New Horizons continues to push our limits, revealing new sights as it makes its way through the Kuiper Belt enroute to a January 1, 2019 encounter with the KBO 2014 MU69. No object this far from the Sun has ever been visited by a spacecraft. Adding further interest is the unusual nature of the target, for MU69 is thought to be a contact binary, two independent bodies that have touched (comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko is likely a contact binary as well). The beauty of this kind of exploration, of course, is that we so often get surprised when we reach our destination.

Below is an image of NGC 3532, also known as the Wishing Well Cluster, an open cluster in the constellation Carina that has its own place in our observational history, becoming the first target ever observed by the Hubble Space Telescope. That was in May of 1990; this is New Horizons’ view in December.

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