NASA’s pioneering spacecraft New Horizons once again takes a tiny Kuiper Belt object orbiting the sun. New Horizons first imaged 1994 JR1 in November last year at a distance of 280 million kilometres. The image taken from spacecraft's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) in April shatter New Horizons' own record for the closest-ever views of this KBO.
According to NASA scientists the Kuiper Belt object (KBO) is just 145 kilometres wide. And these observations contain valuable findings. As combining the two observations allow us to locate the JR1 to within 1,000 kilometres, far better than any small KBO.
With the help of this data, scientists are now able to determine the object’s rotation period which is once every 5.4 hours for one JR1 day.
These observations can serve as best practice for possible close-up looks at about 20 more ancient Kuiper Belt objects that may come in the next few years. The spacecraft is on for an ultra-close flyby of another Kuiper Belt object, "2014 MU69", on January 1, 2019.