SCIENCE

New Horizons Won't Be The Only Spacecraft At Our Solar System's Edge

<span>Artist's impression of the New Horizons spacecraft encountering a Kuiper Belt Object, as part of an extended mission af
Artist's impression of the New Horizons spacecraft encountering a Kuiper Belt Object, as part of an extended mission after the Pluto flyby. In 2014, using the Hubble Space Telescope, New Horizons science team members discovered three Kuiper Belt Objects.

Now that it's sailed beyond Pluto, what comes next for NASA' s New Horizons spacecraft?

NASA says the probe will continue its mission into the Kuiper Belt, the vast region of primordial debris that encircles our solar system

It will be lonely out there for sure. But maybe not as lonely as you might imagine. As McClatchy D.C. reported, the New Horizons probe won't be the only spacecraft at our solar system's edge -- it will be joining four other unmanned spacecraft that are already speeding their way out of the solar system: Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, and Voyager 2.

(Story continues below images.)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, UNITED STATES:  This is an artist rendition of the Pioneer 10 spacecraft as it passes the planet Jupiter. Toda
MOUNTAIN VIEW, UNITED STATES: This is an artist rendition of the Pioneer 10 spacecraft as it passes the planet Jupiter. Today, marks the end of the United Sates' longest running space program which began over twenty-five years ago as NASA Ames Research Center received the last data transmision 31 March in Mountain View, California. JOHN G. MABANGLO/AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read JOHN G. MABANGLO/AFP/Getty Images)

The venerable Pioneer 10 spacecraft was launched in 1972 to explore Jupiter. It sent its last signal to Earth in 2003.

The Pioneer 11 spacecraft undergoes tests before being transported to the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Cana
The Pioneer 11 spacecraft undergoes tests before being transported to the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla., March 29, 1973. Payload is to be launched Thursday night on a 22-month trip across space to probe the planet Jupiter. A twin, Pioneer 10, was launched 13 months ago and is scheduled to fly near Jupiter in December. (AP Photo/NASA)

The Pioneer 11 spacecraft was launched in 1973 to explore Saturn. It sent its last signal to Earth in 1995.

An artist's impression of NASA's Voyager 1 space probe passing behind the rings of Saturn, using cameras and radio equipment
An artist's impression of NASA's Voyager 1 space probe passing behind the rings of Saturn, using cameras and radio equipment to measure how sunlight is affected as it shines between the ring particles. The image was produced in 1977, before the craft was launched, and depicts events due to take place in 1980. (Photo by NASA/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Voyager 1 spacecraft, which launched in 1977, made the historic entry into interstellar space in 2012 and continues to send signals back to Earth.

A NASA image of one of the Voyager space probes. Voyager 1 and its identical sister craft Voyager 2 were launched in 1977 to
A NASA image of one of the Voyager space probes. Voyager 1 and its identical sister craft Voyager 2 were launched in 1977 to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space. (Photo by NASA/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Voyager 2 spacecraft, which launched in 1977, also continues to transmit data back to Earth.

While in the Kuiper Belt, New Horizons will examine celestial objects found in the region until it runs out of fuel, the Guardian reported.

"We have a chance to go further and explore the deep reaches of the heliosphere, like Voyager did, and to do that with much more modern instruments," Dr. Alan Stern, the principal investigator of New Horizons, told USA Today, "and hopefully return data that will really add to the storehouse of what we know about our environment in the solar system."

New Horizons has enough power to keep operating until the mid-2030s, Stern said. By that point it will be roughly 9.3 billion miles from the sun--and will continue on its way even after it falls silent.

Onward all!

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