Kuiper Belt is a disc-shaped region of icy objects beyond the orbit of Neptune
in our solar system. It is also called Edgeworth–Kuiper Belt.
Outer Solar System and Kuiper Belt
Pluto and Eris are the best known of these icy worlds. There
may be hundreds more of these ice dwarfs out there. The Kuiper
Belt and even more distant Oort Cloud are believed to be the home
of comets that orbit our sun.
The Kuiper Belt extends from about 30 to 55 AU and is probably
populated with hundreds of thousands of icy bodies larger than 100
km (62 miles) across and an estimated trillion or more comets.
The Oort Cloud probably contains 0.1 to 2 trillion icy bodies in
How the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud Got Their Names
Both distant regions are named for the astronomers who predicted
their existence: Gerard Kuiper and Jan Oort. Objects discovered in
the Kuiper Belt get their names from diverse mythologies. Eris is
named for the Greek goddess of discord and strife. Haumea is named
for a Hawaiian goddess of fertility and childbirth. Comets from both
regions are generally named for the person who discovered them.
Missions to the Kuiper Belt
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is designed to make the first
close-up study of Pluto and its moons and other icy worlds in the
distant Kuiper Belt. The spacecraft has seven scientific instruments
to study the atmospheres, surfaces, interiors and intriguing
environments of Pluto and its distant neighbours.
Did you know?
Pluto was the first true Kuiper Belt Object to be viewed.