The team of the interplanetary station New Horizons has shared plans for the further operation of the spacecraft. In May, the space probe will observe three Kuiper Belt objects from a great distance, and in the summer, scientists will try to find a new target for its close flight.
New Horizons was the first spacecraft in history to fly close to Pluto. It transmitted detailed images of both the dwarf planet and its satellites, and also made images of the 2014 Kuiper Belt object MU69 (or Arrokoth).
Now the station is flying to the solar system's borders, receiving unique data on the behavior of the solar wind and interstellar ions outside the orbit of Mars and studying the environment of the Kuiper Belt.
Experts hope that the station will continue its operation for a long time. However, by the end of the 2030s, New Horizons may receive too little energy due to a gradual decrease in the power of a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), which uses plutonium.
Until that moment, the station will be at a distance of about 100 astronomical units from the Earth. This means that the device will not be able to make it to the heliopause, which is located at a distance of about 120 astronomical units (only Voyagers crossed it). In the future, the device will continue to fly away from the solar system at a speed of almost three astronomical units per year.