"My fondest hope is we could find a couple or three KBOs and then be in the happy position of having to choose between them," Stern said.
Pluto, an icy dwarf planet about 4.7 billion miles from Earth, has never been visited by a spacecraft. New Horizons is designed to not only explore Pluto and its constellation of satellites, but also at least one smaller body in the pristine, frigid Kuiper Belt region of the solar system.
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Scientists believe KBOs are untouched remnants of the solar system's formation some 4.6 billion years ago. Pluto, which is now known as a "dwarf planet," has undergone tremendous changes since its formation, including a massive collision that scientists believe created its large partner moon, Charon.
Pluto also may generate enough internal heat to maintain an underground ocean.
New Horizons' science observations of Pluto are due to begin in January. By May, its view of Pluto should be better than Hubble's, Stern said.
Image: Hubble view of Pluto, the best pictures of the dwarf planet until New Horizons' approach. Credit: NASA/ESA/M.Buie, Southwest Research Institute