New Horizons Moving Out

The New Horizons web page includes a mission report from project scientist Alan Stern today. The Pluto-bound probe is already 100 million miles past the largest planet. Images and data from February’s close encounter is still being beamed back to Earth. Above is a non-scientifically colorized version of the moon Europa emerging from the limb of Jupiter. Stars are also artificial additions, but it’s a nice picture.

In a few months, the probe will be placed into “hibernation” for the eight-year cruise to Pluto. More from Dr. Stern:

And while the spacecraft team is busy with hibernation preps, our science team is closing in on a decision about which day in mid-July 2015 we want to arrive at Pluto. We had planned on July 14, but decided to look at surrounding dates for potential, additional science opportunities at Pluto. Considerations range from what terrain we see best on Pluto (each day is different as Pluto rotates over 6.4 days), to where Charon is located relative to Pluto, and where Nix and Hydra will be as well. We plan to make a final decision at a full science team meeting on May 30-31. I’ll let you know what we decide, but I can tell you that after a close look, July 14 is still an awfully good choice. If we move off July 14, we’ll execute a burn this fall to change our speed by 3 to perhaps 30 meters per second (depending on how many days we move the date).


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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