NASA plans orbiter mission to Pluto

NASA has commissioned Southwest Research Institute to study the possibility of a Pluto orbital mission.

    2019/11/01

NSFW    SAN ANTONIO — NASA has commissioned Southwest Research Institute to study the possibility and the cost of a long-term Pluto orbiter mission.

NASA and Southwest Research Institute aim to send an unmanned spacecraft to study Pluto and two other Kuiper Belt Objects for a total of two years, according to a press release from the research institute.

For the mission, the institute will work to develop a new spacecraft with a new payload design.

According to the press release, the spacecraft would have a larger payload than the New Horizons space probe and carry more advanced instruments.

The press release didn't detail which exact instruments the space probe could potentially carry.

The institute previously lead NASA's New Horizon mission, in which the New Horizon space probe was able to fly past Pluto and its five moons and reach Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) 2014 MU69, also known as Ultima Thule, the farthest object visited till date.

The spacecraft captured high-resolution images of Pluto but wasn't able to enter Pluto's orbit as it was traveling fast at 50,700 kilometers per hour, according to Phys.org.

Researchers will deliver their results to the National Academy Planetary Decadal Study in 2020.
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