Artist's rendering of New Horizons

New Horizons

Our Contribution

Beyond Pluto

Not even four years after NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft left Pluto and its moons in the rearview mirror—and revolutionized humankind’s view of these small, dynamic worlds on the edge of our solar system—the APL-built and -operated probe conducted a flyby of an ancient Kuiper Belt object, named Arrokoth, on New Year’s Day 2019. Arrokoth is the most distant object ever explored by a spacecraft, more than a billion miles farther from our Sun than Pluto. New Horizons continues its speedy voyage deeper into the Kuiper Belt, hurtling toward the doorstep of interstellar space while making groundbreaking measurements of dust and the heliospheric plasma environment far from the Sun.

New Horizons: Across the Expanse

January 2006: At 35,000 miles per hour, New Horizons is the fastest spacecraft ever launched. In February 2007, New Horizons used Jupiter’s gravity for a boost toward the outer solar system, and offered new views of the planet and its moons. Crossing the solar system, New Horizons covered about 750,000 miles a day. In August 2014, New Horizons crossed the orbit of Neptune, exactly 25 years after Voyager 2’s flight past the ice giant.

July 2015: In a historic flyby, New Horizons provided the first close-up look at Pluto and its family of moons. Then, in January 2019, New Horizons sped by the Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth, recording the farthest flyby in space exploration history.

New Horizons observes distant Kuiper Belt objects and measures the charged particle environment of the distant reaches of the Sun’s influence. In April 2021, New Horizons became just the fifth spacecraft to reach 50 astronomical units (AU); that’s 50 times farther from the Sun than our home planet.

More discoveries in the outer reaches of the Kuiper Belt await. The adventure of exploration continues.

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