Of course, the whole point of NASA’s New Frontiers project is to increase mankind’s knowledge about the Solar System. But once the New Horizons spacecraft had passed Jupiter, it was effectively put on standby. All but the most essential systems on the vessel were put into sleep mode. This was to conserve as much energy as possible for the groundbreaking work it would do when it reached Pluto.
Flying close to Jupiter actually assisted the New Horizons to speed on its way to Pluto. The spacecraft achieved this by utilizing what NASA terms a “slingshot maneuver.” This is when a craft takes advantage of a planet’s gravitational field to increase its velocity. The Jupiter flyby, albeit at some 1.4 million miles distance from the planet, increased New Horizons’ speed to 51,000 mph. Consequently, this slingshot move actually shaved an impressive five to six years off the journey time.