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Its deep and frequent cosmic vistas will help answer critical questions about the nature of dark energy and dark matter and aid studies of near-Earth asteroids, Kuiper belt objects, the structure of our galaxy and many other areas of astronomy and fundamental physics.
The Kuiper Belt was home to a vastly greater number of these frozen bodies, collectively dubbed Kuiper Belt objects.
Years of planning combined with a network of telescopes to grab the first pictures of the Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) through a method of celestial alignment, they reported on Wednesday in the British science journal Nature.
Since then, scientists have found several Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) that are nearly as big as Pluto, including one called Sedna (see "Planets on the Edge").
Some 800 Kuiper Belt objects have been discovered, and there may be as many as 70,000 with diameters of 60 kilometers or more.
But the stakes were raised when US astronomer Professor Mike Brown and colleagues at the California Institute of Technology spotted a Kuiper Belt object bigger than Pluto, the 'ninth' planet and the most distant member of the Sun's family.
It joins the steadily growing ranks of distant Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) and previously unidentified asteroids discovered over the last few years - so many, in fact, that naming each one is becoming more bizarre.
Some astronomers believe that Pluto isn't a planet at all, but a Kuiper Belt object captured by Neptune's gravitational pull.