New Horizons to flyby Pluto this year

Brian G Turner

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#1
Was looking up information on this previously, as it'll be exciting to finally see proper colour photographs of Pluto, despite it's demotion to dwarf planet a few years ago - in the meantime, the BBC has an introductory piece today about the New Horizons mission:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-30954673

Will be also interesting to see images of Charon, and possibly other Kuiper Belt objects - normally these missions lead to surprises. :)
 

kythe

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#3
I am always amazed by how incredibly vast space is. This probe has been en route for 9 years and is only 6 months away. Yet even now Pluto only appears to the probe as a bright spot in the sky.
 

Venusian Broon

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#4
I am always amazed by how incredibly vast space is. This probe has been en route for 9 years and is only 6 months away. Yet even now Pluto only appears to the probe as a bright spot in the sky.
Yeah, all a bit mind bending these sort of distances - of course the light conditions aren't helping, the sun being just a bit bigger than the nearby stars:

Sun-from-other-planets-1024x806.jpg


But even the ~4-7 billion km that Pluto lives in is (at most) only about ~1.7% of the distance to the closest star. As stated in the Hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy: "Space," it says, "is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space, listen..."
 

Ray McCarthy

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#5
The Oort Cloud's limit is about 1000x further away than Pluto (at it's furthest) and it's associated with our Solar System. Of course these probes take a long while as they are mostly coasting with the occasional planetary slingshot.

Pluto is only about 4 light hours away, with 0.5G Acceleration its maybe a month or two flight time... "Deep Space" is probably 10 to 20 light days away (still FAR nearer than Oort Cloud). The Milky Way, our Galaxy is about 100,000LY across, about 876,600,000 Light Hours, or about 220 Million times more than Earth - Pluto distance, though Pluto is a very eccentric orbit from near the Kuiper Belt to inside orbit of Neptune.


Via space.com Image by NASA
 

Perpetual Man

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#8
Back in 2006 the New Horizons probe left Earth on a slow journey that would take it through the Solar System and out the other side, ultimately providing the closest and most dramatic pictures of Pluto yet seen.

It has been an epic journey for the little craft, but it is coming toward the end of it's mission and we are starting to see photos coming back of the former planet, now dwarf planet or planetoid.

The next two weeks starting from the 16th June should deliver some of the most exciting pictures ever seen from the edge of the solar system.

New Horizons - Pluto
 

mosaix

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#11
Puzzling 'spots' spotted by the New Horizons probe.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33369045

Each spot is about 500km across. Quite why they should be so similar in size and spacing is not clear.

Their dominant placing is on the hemisphere that New Horizons will not see during its close flyby on 14 July.

However, there should be ample opportunity to study them in the days leading up to the encounter.

“It’s a real puzzle - we don’t know what the spots are, and we can’t wait to find out,” said New Horizons principal investigator, Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute.
 

Brian G Turner

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#12


This also reminds of the Shoemaker-Levy scars left in Jupiter's atmosphere - impact craters from a fragmented planetoid, asteroid, or even pieces of a comet...
 

BAYLOR

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#13
Interesting pictures , looks pretty desolate from this distance , Probably not much of anything to find there . No air, no tectonic activity , likely a dead ball of rock and ice. I don't think we'll ever see any kind of a manned mission to Pluto.


On a silly, note I see no evidence of a Gamellon Base.:whistle:
 

BigBadBob141

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#15
I tend to think of Pluto as a full blown planet simply because it has a satellite "Charon".
I was a bit annoyed when it got demoted.
However talking of which does anyone know any of the larger asteroids have satellites?
 

Vertigo

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#16
I tend to think of Pluto as a full blown planet simply because it has a satellite "Charon".
I was a bit annoyed when it got demoted.
However talking of which does anyone know any of the larger asteroids have satellites?
Loads of them it seems: http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/astro/astmoontable.html

I was annoyed at the demotion just because I'd grown up with it as a planet. However it does make sense as we now know of a number of other objects that are bigger than Pluto and orbiting the Sun rather than another object, so it either had to be demoted or a lot of other objects promoted. A line had to be drawn somewhere.
 

BigBadBob141

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#17
REF:Vertigo
Thanks for the reply, I suppose it does make sense, Astronomy has gone forwards leaps and bounds since I became interested back in the early 70s.
I had a 3" Tasco refractor and loved to look at the half-Moon, the rings of Saturn or Sun spots projected on a screen for safety.
I'm a bit out of touch with it all, must start reading Sky & Telescope again.
I don't think I have ever come across an SF story in which an asteroid has a natural satellite?
P.S. Thanks for the link!
 
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mosaix

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#20
From 8million km.



http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33459476

New Horizons has acquired yet another stunning view of Pluto.

The US space agency probe captured the latest image on Tuesday when it was just under eight million km from the dwarf world.

As of Thursday, New Horizons had moved to within six million km, heading for its historic flyby next week.

The new picture was the first to be returned following the computer hiccup at the weekend that saw the probe briefly drop communications with Earth.

The face of Pluto seen in the image is broadly that which will be examined in detail on 14 July.

It includes a large dark region near Pluto's equator, dubbed "the whale", and a roughly heart-shaped bright area spanning 2,000km.
 

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