I understand that New Horizons has further objectives after Pluto, but they seem to be very iffy, whether they will produce anything valuable. This question is related, but I'm more interested in why.

During the design of the mission, was the reason to leave Pluto due to:

  • Concrete and specific objectives to continue outward,
  • Previous lack of know-how to put New Horizons into close orbit of Pluto, or
  • Is the function and nature of New Horizons not compatible with close-up imagery, data collection and communication with Earth?

Why aren't we staying with Pluto, and gathering more information? Given that it's possible nothing will be found of interest in the Kuiper Belt.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ A mission to orbit Pluto would have been massively more expensive. See this related question: space.stackexchange.com/questions/9851/… $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Jul 15 '15 at 8:23
  • $\begingroup$ New Horizons is going really fast. In order to get into orbit, it would need to go much much slower. Slowing down requires energy, and producing that energy would require a lot of fuel which the probe does not have enough of. $\endgroup$ – Sarah Bailey Jul 15 '15 at 15:36