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Thread: New Horizons Mission to Pluto

  1. #1 New Horizons Mission to Pluto 
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    The recent discoveries of further large objects (are they planets? KBOs? Iceteroids?) beyond the orbit of Pluto has heightened interest in the Kuiper Belt, so this sophisticated probe is very timely. The on again, off again mission, looks finally set to launch in January:
    http://www.spacedaily.com/news/outerplanets-05w.html

    Now, just about every other deep space mission has turned up something surprising (even if it was just the fact that NASA contractors don't always use the right units in their calculations). Any thoughts on what this one might reveal? I'll start the ball rolling.

    Pluto and Charon, its satellite, are thought to have a common origin. I predict their character will be surprisingly different in terms of density, surface features, and deduced history. Anyone else?


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  3. #2  
    Forum Senior silkworm's Avatar
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    I think we'll finally confirm the suspicions of many that Pluto is a giant golfball hit by God off of a tee on the sun to mark the border of the solar system. We'll get out there and see a bunch of dimples and the word "Titlest 1" printed on it and a big "G" apparantly handwritten on it, but it will be such a complex G that all of our heads will explode when seeing the data on it. That's my way of saying I have no idea what we'll find, but I definitely am curious. It was discovered by a Kansas boy who made his own telescope during the Great Depression don't you know?

    New Horizons will be the fastest spacecraft ever launched, reaching lunar orbit distance in just nine hours and passing Jupiter 13 months later.
    Wow, that's trucking.

    The Jupiter flyby trims the trip to Pluto by five years and provides opportunities to test the spacecraft's instruments and flyby capabilities on the Jupiter system.
    So it appears we're taking the $250million route and cut some time off. YAY! That's what money is for.

    Depending on its launch date, New Horizons could reach the Pluto system as early as mid-2015, conducting a five-month-long study possible only from the close-up vantage of a spacecraft.
    I'll be waiting, man it's a long way out there.

    The entire spacecraft, drawing electricity from a single radioisotope thermoelectric generator, operates on less power than a pair of 100-watt household light bulbs.
    Do you have any idea what that means? I take it that means it's not solar. We should have made it nuclear so we can get some serious data.

    Ophiolite, I wanted to pass this link along to you in case you haven't seen it. http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/index.html Just click on the planet.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Senior silkworm's Avatar
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    Ophiolite, if you're going to Pluto, you may want to take a jacket.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/200601...erthanexpected

    Using the Submillimeter Array, or SMA, a network of radio telescopes located in Hawaii, astronomers found that Pluto's average surface temperature was about 43 K (-382 degrees F) instead of the expected 53 K (-364 degrees F), which is what the temperature of Pluto's largest moon, Charon, is.
    I figured it would be cold, but 43K seems nuts to me.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Professor wallaby's Avatar
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    it seems nut that they used radio telescopes to find that out when there building a probe to do that for them.
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  6. #5  
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    Looks set to go January 17th. I happened to be watching an old docu the other day, apparently they announced it years ago, fortunately soon enough to tell Clyde Tombaugh, before he died, that a mission was going to the world that he discovered. They said it was due to go up in January 2006, and that prompted a memory that this mission had actually been in jeopardy in recent years. So I'm really glad it's definitely going ahead.
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  7. #6  
    Forum Professor wallaby's Avatar
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    yes at least nasa hasn't cut it in favour of the return to the moon project.
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  8. #7  
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    http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov/dyn...&mediaid=27748


    I've never seen a more beautiful rocket launch in my life. Absolutely pristine.
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