Earth's newest deep-space probe reaches edge of solar system

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The New Horizons spacecraft has reached 50 astronomical units; a distance 50 times the distance from Earth to the Sun, or a total of 7.5 billion kilometers from Earth.

At that distance, it takes commands sent from Earth at the speed of light, a whopping 7 hours to reach the probe; and scientists have to wait another seven hours to hear if the probe received the commands.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Show space probe New Horizons (NH) flying from left to right into deep space
2. Show distance between sun and Earth, show 50 times that distance from Earth to NH
3. Show comms antenna pulsing light beam to NH, then NH pulsing light beam back
4. Show NH and its launch date, 2006, next to Earth's other probes and their launch dates
5. NH passing in front of an outer planet and its moon
6. NH flying through Kuiper Belt, zoom in to show giant comparative size of belt's ice chunks

VOICEOVER (in English):
NASA reports that its record-breaking space probe, the New Horizons, has reached another impressive milestone.

On 17 April the half-ton craft became only the fifth man-made machine to fly more than 50 astronomical units into deep space.

That's 50 times the distance from Earth to the Sun, for a total of 7.5 billion kilometers from Earth.

At that distance, it takes commands sent from Earth at the speed of light, a whopping 7 hours to reach the probe; and scientists have to wait another seven hours to hear if the probe received the commands.

Launched in 2006, the New Horizons is much newer than Earth's other deep-space probes, the two Voyager and two Pioneer spacecraft launched between 1972 and 1977.

At a travelling speed of 58,000 kilometers per hour, it is also the fastest machine ever made.

New Horizons became the first probe to study the distant planet of Pluto, and the first to study objects in the Kuiper Belt — a huge disk of mostly ice chunks that ring the outer reaches of our solar system.

It also filmed the first video of an off-Earth volcano when it flew by Jupiter's moon, Io.


SOURCES: NASA, TIME, Phys.org
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-s-new-horizons-reaches-a-rare-space-milestone
https://time.com/5955695/new-horizons-50-au/
https://phys.org/news/2021-04-nasa-horizons-rare-space-milestone.html