The New Horizons mission is helping us understand worlds at the edge of our solar system by making the first reconnaissance of the dwarf planet Pluto and by venturing deeper into the distant, mysterious Kuiper Belt – a relic of solar system formation.

Launch Date Jan. 19, 2006 | 19:00 UT
Launch Site Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA | Launch Complex 41
Destination Pluto, Kuiper Belt, Beyond Our Solar System
Type Flyby
Status Successful—Extended Mission in Progress
Nation United States
Alternate Names 2006-001A

Goals

Make the first close-up study of Pluto and its moons and other icy worlds in the distant Kuiper Belt. The spacecraft has seven scientific instruments to study the atmospheres, surfaces, interiors and intriguing environments of Pluto and its distant neighbors.

Accomplishments

On July 14, 2015, New Horizons became the first spacecraft to explore Pluto and its five moons up close. The successful flyby revealed Pluto as a dynamic, complex world. The science results were beamed back to Earth over 16 months. New Horizons is now en route to a second science target—(486958) 2014 MU69.

Key Dates

Jan. 19, 2006 | 19:00 UT: Launch

July 14, 2015 | 11:49:58 UT: Pluto Flyby

Spacecraft

Launch Vehicle: Atlas V

Spacecraft Mass: 850 pounds (385 kilograms)

Spacecraft Instruments:

  1. Visible and infrared imager/spectrometer (RALPH)

  2. Ultraviolet imaging spectrometer (ALICE)

  3. Radio science experiment for studying atmospheres (REX)

  4. Telescopic camera (LORRI)

  5. Solar wind and plasma spectrometer (SWAP)

  6. Energetic particle spectrometer (PEPSSI)

  7. Space dust counter (SDC)

Spacecraft Dimensions: The primary structure is 0.7 m (27 inches) tall, 2.1 m (83 inches) long and 2.7 m (108 inches) at its widest.

Spacecraft Power: One Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator

Max Power: 240 watts

Antenna Diameter: 2.1-m (83-inch)

Additional Resources

NASA: New Horizons

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory: New Horizons

National Space Science Data Center Master Catalog: New Horizons

Beyond Our Solar System News