NASA has waved a green flag at the extension of New Horizons mission wherein the spacecraft will be flying towards an object deeper in the Kuiper Belt, known as 2014 MU69.
The extension to the mission is effectively a stamp of acknowledgement and appreciation for the New Horizons mission and its team with respect to their achievements. NASA has time and again said that the New Horizons mission exceeded all expectations and in a bid to continue with new discoveries, the US space agency has extended the mission for two more financial years.
The decision of extension was made base on the 2016 Planetary Mission Senior Review Panel report. NASA’s Director of Planetary Science Jim Green has expressed happiness over the extension and said that the agency is looking forward to more scientific discoveries and the spacecraft’s journey into the dark depths of the outer solar system.
New Horizons’ extension was one of the nine other extensions that were confirmed by NASA. NASA said that they plan to continue a total of nine other missions for continued operations through fiscal years 2017 and 2018. The other missions that received extensions are the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN), the Opportunity and Curiosity Mars rovers, the Mars Odyssey orbiter, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), and NASA’s support for the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission.
The Dawn mission hasn’t been given a nod to fly to another asteroid belt object and instead it will be continuing its work at Ceres for largest asteroid in the belt is getting closer to perihelion and that’s the time, NASA believes, scientists will be able to learn more about Ceres.