New Horizons spacecraft prepares to study Pluto after 9-year voyage

by
in space on (#2VNX)
About three billion miles from Earth, a spacecraft the size of a grand piano is about to wake up. The spacecraft is called New Horizons, and it has been traveling for nine years across the solar system on a high speed journey to its ultimate destination, the dwarf planet Pluto. A few weeks later, instruments on the spacecraft will begin to make observations. No one really even knows what Pluto looks like. Neither of the Voyagers visited Pluto on their journey through the solar system. One sad, pixelated picture taken by the Hubble telescope in 1994 is the best image of Pluto and its moon Charon ever made.

New Horizons is scheduled to make long-range observations of a small Kuiper belt object, temporarily designated VNH0004, in January 2015, before the Pluto flyby. After passing by Pluto, New Horizons will continue farther into the Kuiper belt. Provided it survives that far out, New Horizons is likely to follow the Voyager probes in exploring the outer heliosphere and mapping the heliosheath and heliopause. The heliopause might be reached around year 2047. Even though it was launched far faster than any outward probe before it, New Horizons will never overtake either Voyager 1 or Voyager 2 as the most distant human-made object from Earth. Close fly-bys of Saturn and Titan gave Voyager 1 an advantage with its extra gravity assist.

Re: Nuclear power battery (Score: 1)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2014-12-08 21:17 (#2VR1)

I would think something without moving parts would be superior.
Try hitting a computer chip with a hammer. Then try the same thing with your car's engine. Still think solid-state is always superior?

Both SRGs and RTGs are designed (and tested) with the same lifetimes in-mind. The SRGs even lose less capacity over time (thermo-electric materials decay). And NASA has done the testing to prove that SRGs can operate continuously for the necessary lifetimes.
Post Comment
Subject
Comment
Captcha
What is 9 + nine?