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Now that we have seen what Pluto has to offer and New Horizons is headed to the Kuiper Belt, is there anything we can gain from the mission in interstellar space after it travels beyond the Kuiper Belt?

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  • $\begingroup$ We won't get all of the data it got on Pluto for another 16 months or so, so it'll be a while before we've truly seen what Pluto has to offer. Transmission speeds are really slow, thanks in part to the vast distances. $\endgroup$ – zibadawa timmy Jul 17 '15 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ @zibadawatimmy Yes, data rate is now around 2000 bits per second. That's pretty good by 1980's standards, but megabyte size files will take a while: pluto.jhuapl.edu/Mission/Spacecraft/Data-Collection.php $\endgroup$ – Wayfaring Stranger Jul 17 '15 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ That's interesting because I was curious about how we got good images so fast. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Harrington Jul 17 '15 at 14:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Bryan They prioritized getting a few images in asap. They make for better press releases. $\endgroup$ – zibadawa timmy Jul 17 '15 at 14:39
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Possible rendezvous with a Kuiper belt object and Voyager type data on the heliosphere:

"We should have power until the 2030s, so we can get into the outer part of the heliosphere," says Spencer. "As long as we can continue to get good data—and persuade NASA to pay for it—we will keep getting the data, because we will be in a unique environment that we've never been in before."

Added: NASA just picked the object for flyby.

a 30-mile-wide chunk of ice known as 2014 MU69 that orbits nearly a billion miles farther out.

Not much is currently known about the object. We'll no doubt learn more from the January 2019 encounter.

More info from Emily Lakdawalla and Casey Dreier at the Planetary Society:

New Horizons extended mission target selected

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  • $\begingroup$ The linked article does use the word "rendezvous", but "flyby" would be more accurate. $\endgroup$ – Keith Thompson Aug 26 '15 at 0:39

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