NASA’s Pluto explorer adjusts course as next icy world looms

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The NASA spacecraft that explored Pluto has adjusted course as its next target looms.

New Horizons fired its thrusters late Wednesday way out in our solar system’s so-called Kuiper (KIE-per) Belt, or Twilight Zone. That puts the spacecraft on track for a New Year’s Day flyby of a teeny, frigid world dubbed Ultima Thule (THOO-lee). The name comes from medieval maps and literature.

Lead scientist Alan Stern is tweeting, “YEAH! Go Baby Go!”

New Horizons became the first spacecraft to visit Pluto in 2015. Its next target is 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto and a whopping 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) from us. So 13 years after rocketing from Florida, New Horizons will break its own record for humanity’s most distant tour of a cosmic object.

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