Is New Horizons Heading Towards Planet X after Pluto Mission?

Artist’s impression of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft encountering a Pluto-like object in the distant Kuiper Belt. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Alex Parker

Short Bytes: New Horizons has already completed its Pluto mission by surprising the world with the amazing close-up pictures of Pluto. After the amazing flyby of Pluto on July 14, it’s possible that the New Horizons probe will hunt for the mysterious Planet X beyond Pluto in Kuiper Belt. 

Some of you might be knowing about the classic-cold Planet X that is a part of 1,500 icy bodies discovered in the Kuiper Belt.  Some of these planets are big enough to rank among the dwarf planets and there are some much bigger. Scientists are working closely to follow the possibility of a hidden planet bigger than Pluto, being called as Planet X. Scott Sheppard, an astronomer with the Carnegie Institution of Washington told Washington Post, “I think there are definitely things out there bigger than Pluto that are yet to be discovered.” If NASA approves the funding, the New Horizons probe will hunt for the mysterious Planet X beyond Pluto in Kuiper Belt.

Long back in a research paper in Nature in 2014, Sheppard and Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii said that a massive outer Solar System perturber may exist. This discovery in the report turned out to be the dwarf planet 2012 VP113 that’s much deeper into space. This new world beyond Kuiper Belt has a number of distant and large objects at a similar angle, which is very suspicious as astronomers expect to see a random distribution of objects.

This possibility of Planet X was first proposed by Percival Lowell and the mysterious planet has become a buzzword since then. It doesn’t produce its own light, so its hunting is difficult. However, the gravitational signatures have suggested the existence of such planet.

Path of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft toward its next potential target, the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, nicknamed “PT1” (for “Potential Target 1”) by the New Horizons team. NASA must approve any New Horizons extended mission to explore a KBO.
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Alex Parker

NASA writes on its website: “New Horizons will perform a series of four maneuvers in late October and early November to set its course toward 2014 MU69 – nicknamed “PT1” (for “Potential Target 1”) – which it expects to reach on January 1, 2019. Any delays from those dates would cost precious fuel and add mission risk.”

Conspiracy theorists too have had their own share of say in the Planet X. They say that NASA has hidden the existence of Planet X, also known as Nibiru. Our solar system is yet to be fully explored and the New Horizons is moving ahead in the deeper and darker space to do the same.

Having something to add? Tell us in the comments below.

Also read: NASA Confirmed the Discovery of Earth 2.0

Adarsh Verma

Adarsh Verma

Fossbytes co-founder and an aspiring entrepreneur who keeps a close eye on open source, tech giants, and security. Get in touch with him by sending an email — [email protected]
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