[meteorite-list] New Horizons Receives Mission Extension to Kuiper Belt, Dawn to Remain at Ceres
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue, 5 Jul 2016 01:25:35 -0700 (PDT)
New Horizons Receives Mission Extension to Kuiper Belt, Dawn to Remain at Ceres
Following its historic first-ever flyby of Pluto, NASA's New Horizons
mission has received the green light to fly onward to an object deeper
in the Kuiper Belt, known as 2014 MU69. The spacecraft's planned rendezvous
with the ancient object - considered one of the early building blocks
of the solar system -- is Jan. 1, 2019.
"The New Horizons mission to Pluto exceeded our expectations and even
today the data from the spacecraft continue to surprise," said NASA's
Director of Planetary Science Jim Green. "We're excited to continue
onward into the dark depths of the outer solar system to a science target
that wasn't even discovered when the spacecraft launched."
Based upon the 2016 Planetary Mission Senior Review Panel report, NASA
this week directed nine extended missions to plan for continued operations
through fiscal years 2017 and 2018. Final decisions on mission extensions
are contingent on the outcome of the annual budget process.
In addition to the extension of the New Horizons mission, NASA determined
that the Dawn spacecraft should remain at the dwarf planet Ceres, rather
than changing course to the main belt asteroid Adeona.
Green noted that NASA relies on the scientific assessment by the Senior
Review Panel in making its decision on which extended mission option to
approve. "The long-term monitoring of Ceres, particularly as it gets
closer to perihelion - the part of its orbit with the shortest distance
to the sun -- has the potential to provide more significant science discoveries
than a flyby of Adeona," he said.
Also receiving NASA approval for mission extensions, contingent on available
resources, 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.
Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077
dwayne.c.brown at nasa.gov / laura.l.cantillo at nasa.gov
Received on Tue 05 Jul 2016 04:25:35 AM PDT