New Horizons facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Atlas V 551 roars into blue sky
The launch of New Horizons on the Atlas V 551.

New Horizons is a space probe launched by NASA on 19 January 2006, to the dwarf planet Pluto and on an escape trajectory from the Sun. It is the first man-made spacecraft to go to Pluto. Its flight took eight years. It arrived at the Pluto-Charon system on July 14, 2015. It flew near Pluto and took photographs and measurements while it passed. It is transmitting them back to Earth.

New Horizons Transparent
The New Horizons spacecraft

The primary mission of New Horizons is to study Pluto and its system of moons. The secondary mission is to study any objects in the Kuiper Belt, if something became available for a flyby.

The space probe set the record for the fastest man-made object ever launched, with the Earth-relative speed of about 16.26 km/s, although, arguably, the Helios probes got a faster Sun-relative speed. It used a gravity assist from Jupiter to get its high speeds without having to burn as much monopropellant (weak rocket fuel) as needed to fly directly to Pluto.

In 2019 the probe is expected to flyby and study a small Kuiper Belt object. After that, it won't have enough propellant to go to another target. It will continue to report about its environment.

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New Horizons Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.