NASA has approved the extension for nine existing space discovery missions to continue for two years, Universe Today reported Monday.
Ken Kremer writes NASA granted permission for the New Horizons probe, launched on July 14, 2015, to explore further the Kuiper Belt and for the Dawn mission at Ceres to carry forward permanently.
The New Horizons spacecraft is set to make a close encounter with the celestial object 2014 MU69 in the Kuiper Belt and NASA expects the spacecraft to rendezvous with the ancient rock in January 2019, according to the report.
“We’re excited to continue onward into the dark depths of the outer solar system to a science target that wasn’t even discovered when the spacecraft launched,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA headquarters in Washington, was quoted as saying.
The report said the Dawn asteroid orbiter, launched in September 2007, also concluded the spacecraft’s primary mission at Ceres on June 30 and NASA expects the mission to continue until late 2016.
NASA also granted extensions to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, the Opportunity and Curiosity Mars rovers, the Mars Odyssey orbiter, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Mars Express mission in support of the European Space Agency, Kremer noted.