In August 2015, NASA announced the next potential flyby candidate for the New Horizons spacecraft. Named 2014 MU69, this Kuiper Belt object (KBO) orbits nearly a billion miles beyond Pluto.
New Horizons was designed to perform more than just its historic flyby of Pluto in July 2015. Intended to also fly beyond the Pluto system and explore additional KBOs, the spacecraft carries extra fuel. Its communications and power systems were also designed for a longer, more distant journey.
Mission scientists want to study KBOs because they are thought to represent a well preserved, sample of what the outer solar system was like 4.6 billion years ago.
The artist concept shows New Horizons encountering a KBO.