New Horizons Mission Update Thread (Part Two)

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unclejoe101

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Thanks so much for the blog link, MeteorWayne, and for all the work you do here. The images and information are fantastic! I'm actually becoming more excited about NH passing into the Kuiper Belt, so much to learn out there. Sure hope we have good aim.
 
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MeteorWayne

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unclejoe101":24r1l0nx said:
Thanks so much for the blog link, MeteorWayne, and for all the work you do here. The images and information are fantastic! I'm actually becoming more excited about NH passing into the Kuiper Belt, so much to learn out there. Sure hope we have good aim.
Thanx. The waiting is so tough though :)

Pluto Close Approach in
1994 days
4 hours
20 minutes

;)
 
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langevrouw

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why does it have to last this long !!!!
:lol:

we can no longer wait !
 
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adman69

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I apologize if this has been discussed elsewhere but I would like to know why NH isn't able to do any test imaging of Pluto. I know they tested the camera on Jupiter a few years ago so why can't they do the same to get a look at Pluto as it is now? I'm sure there are logical and mission saving reasons. Anyone care to indulge me? Thanks.
 
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MeteorWayne

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It's too far away and too small.

NH is currently ~ 16 AU (2.4 billion km, or 1.5 billion miles) away from Pluto. And it's a small object, only 2300 km (1400 miles) across. That's about 10 arc seconds at that distance, so would fill only a pixel or so.


She has to sleep now, so she can be awake in 5 1/2 years when she gets there :)
 
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adman69

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Thanks Wayne...I figured as such. I know about arc seconds and pixelization but I don't understand enough about it to be that adept. Can't wait for 2015!
 
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MeteorWayne

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From the last PI's Perspective:

"Since I wrote you in early September, our ground team has been a lot busier than our spacecraft has, since they never hibernate. In addition to planning both the just-completed November wake-up and the upcoming 10-day January (2010) wake-up, they’ve also completed all but a few final details of the nine-day, Pluto-closest-approach encounter command load for 2015 and verified this command load on the spacecraft simulators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. Our ground team has also been hard at work planning next summer’s Active Checkout (ACO), which will run from late May to early July.

The 2010 ACO is our fourth of the mission, so it’s called ACO-4. Unlike ACO-3, which was very light on activity (to give our ground team more time to work on Pluto encounter planning), ACO-4 will be chockablock with scheduled activities. Among these will be a complete spacecraft and instrument checkout; instrument calibrations, to look for changes since our last set of calibrations in 2008; a trajectory correction maneuver, our first since 2007; a little cruise science focusing on the interplanetary environment and Uranus and Neptune imaging; more fault-protection software upgrades; some tests associated with activities we’ll be conducting at Pluto; and our first-ever full length encounter mode test on the spacecraft.

And just in case you think the ground team still doesn’t have enough to do, they have also begun the detailed planning of the final few weeks of our approach to Pluto that precedes the nine-day close encounter period they’ve already planned out. All of this, mind you, by a team that is about 10 times smaller than the venerable Voyager team when its Uranus and Neptune flybys were planned in the mid- and late-1980s "


Here's that link...if you're interested, I'd bookmark it like I have and check in once in a while for updates (or to read the whole Dec 2, 2009 one)

Wayne

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/overview/piPerspective.php

BTW, one of the comments at today's Hubble observations of Pluto news conference was that those results have been used in planning the 2015 encounter...there might be some comment on that in the next PI's Perspective.
 
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Cosmicvoid

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It looks to me like the CCD array in LORRI has a resolution of (only) 1024 x 1024. I wonder why an array with more pixels wasn't chosen; I assume that multi-megapixel sensors have been around for 10 years or so. Is it due to memory storage & transmission speed limitations? Or maybe its difficult to make a large array be radiation hardened?

How does this compare to other probes, such as those sent to Jupiter and those on Mars and in Mars orbit? My impression is that sensor array sizes are not publicized.
 
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MeteorWayne

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Don't forget, NH was approved in 2001, so they had to use the best flight ready hardware available at the time that could be counted on to survive a 9 year mission with limited contact during those 9 years.
 
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BenS1985

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In reference to adman69:

New Horizon's camera has actually taken pictures of Pluto....Wayne isn't quite right about that one:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:11280 ... mation.gif

You can 'see' it in the animation. I am unsure if it even qualifies as a pixel, though. I'd imagine that the resolution is a little bit better by now - maybe a brighter pixel by now?

Reading up on New Horizons, it looks like we're not going to get good pictures of Pluto until T-Minus 6 months before closest approach. Ouch. But I waited all those years for Cassini, so what is another 5 years, right?

I wish they had the Jupiter-on-IR pictures in a higher resolution. Would be a fantastic background:

 
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EarthlingX

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Philotas":2i6v9mo4 said:
Three short videos about Pluto are avaible on the National Geographic Channel webiste, including some info relevant to New Horizons. More on the TV, I guess
Not your fault, thank you for this info, but not working in FF 3.5.7 with
Adobe - Flash Player version ":2i6v9mo4 said:
You have version 10,0,42,34 installed
.

At least not here, on WinXP-SP3 ..

Just checking if i'am only one with this problem .. ?
 
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nimbus

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Works on Google Chrome, latest version. Also Opera's latest version.
 
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MeteorWayne

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"Could Pluto have lots more small moons? Last week's Nix-Hydra workshop revealed that as a real possibility!"

May 11, 2010
Nix and Hydra: Five Years After Discovery
Five years after the discovery of Nix and Hydra, scientists are meeting in Baltimore to discuss Pluto’s “new” moons as part of the planning for New Horizons’ 2015 reconnaissance of the Pluto system. Participants in the Nix-Hydra workshop, May 11-12 at the Space Telescope Science Institute, will focus on the moons in context of Pluto formation, Kuiper Belt Object analog bodies, and the general topic of KBO satellites.
 
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NateEvans

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You know they say pluto may have rings because pluto is in a region where many comets pass by an dust may have gathered around pluto. (remember MAYBE)
 
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3488

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NateEvans":30yto4o3 said:
You know they say pluto may have rings because pluto is in a region where many comets pass by an dust may have gathered around pluto. (remember MAYBE)
As Wayne said, we'll know in a tad over 5 years.

It is quite plausible that Nix & Hydra could have dust / icy debris knocked off them & this icy debris may remain in orbit around the parent KBO 134340 Pluto as faint rings. Also if Charon is cryovolcanically active (Charon like Enceladus, Dione, Ariel & Titania shows crystalline ice), Charon may leave an extremely tenuous version of Saturn's E-Ring (created from the south polar geysers of Enceladus).

This is all just second guessing & we will not really know till New Horizons draws near, or even post perihadeon, when New Horizons views KBO 134340 Pluto & Charon at very high phase, rings, if they exist may appear backlit.

The largist & most massive known KBO 136199 Eris, may also have a thin ring with icy debris knocked off it's moon Dysnomia. This hypothesis could be tested with what New Horizons find with Nix & Hydra around 134340 Pluto.

Andrew Brown.
 
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EarthlingX

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pluto.jhuapl.edu : Ever Farther Across the Ocean of Space to a Distant and Unknown Shore
May 21, 2010


Could there be springs or geysers of liquid nitrogen or methane on our distant shore at Pluto? It’s not impossible, as beautifully illustrated by space artist Ron Miller. (Click on the graphic to enlarge.)
New Horizons is speeding through an ocean of space among the giant planets and the nearly 2.5 billion-mile expanse of the middle solar system. Onboard our spacecraft, all systems are “go” and we continue to speed outward at nearly a million miles per day.

Anniversaries are important, and this past January, New Horizons marked its fourth launch anniversary. Also in January, Pluto celebrated the 80th year of its discovery!

The New Horizons team celebrated the fourth anniversary of launch at our annual science team meeting, which was held near mission control at the Applied Physics Laboratory in January. (Click on the graphic to enlarge.)
But next Tuesday, on May 25, we will wake New Horizons up for a jam-packed nine weeks of testing and other activities that form our fourth annual checkout, or ACO-4. We alternate simple and comprehensive annual checkouts; simple ones occur in odd-numbered years like 2009, while comprehensive checks occur in even numbered years, like 2010. So this year’s ACO contains a lot more activity than either last year’s or next year’s ACOs.
What about that course correction? Well, our navigators at KinetX Corporation in California have determined that we are slightly off course due to a tiny thrust force from—get this—the soft reflection of thermal photons from our radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) power source off the backside of our high-gain antenna! This effect is tiny, but over four-plus years has put us slightly off course.

To put us back on course, a change in speed of less than 1 mile per hour is needed. But with so many hours to go to Pluto (about 45,500!), you can see that we’d be pretty far off our encounter aim point if we didn’t make this adjustment. So, using our onboard thrusters to change our course for the first time since October 2007, we’ll burn our engines for about 30 seconds.

And regarding this summer’s cruise science, our Ralph and LORRI imaging targets will include Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, as well as some of their satellites. Our heliospheric cruise science will consist of almost four weeks of SWAP and PEPSSI observations of the space plasma (charged subatomic particle) environment out in the region we’re traversing near the orbit of Uranus, and some Alice ultraviolet observations of the hydrogen and helium atoms that pervade our solar system.
Although no major breakthroughs about Nix and Hydra were announced at the workshop, we did determine that a combination of new Hubble data, along with hoped-for observations to be made with the National Science Foundation’s new ALMA radio telescope array in 2011 and 2012, could soon give us more accurate orbits, sizes, and perhaps even shapes and/or masses for the pair. These kinds of facts would be a great help in planning our flyby observations for 2015.

The participants in the Nix-Hydra Workshop, held May 11-12 at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. (Click on the graphic to enlarge.)
Well, that’s my update for now. Thanks for following our journey across the ocean of space, to a new frontier.

You’ll see updates from the mission team as we exit hibernation next week and around the June 30 course correction. And I’ll be writing again before we enter hibernation after ACO-4 at the end of July.

In the meantime, keep on exploring, just as we do!
- Alan Stern
http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/gallery/videos/movieTrail.php

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz64CBngTNo[/youtube]
 
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MeteorWayne

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Another halfway milestone has been passed:

Halfway points across the ocean of space en route to Pluto (followed by date and New Horizons’ distance from the Sun – in astronomical units – when the milestone was/is reached).

Half the Distance from Earth at Launch to Pluto at Flyby (July 2015)
Feb. 25, 2010
15.962 AU

Halfway of Pluto's Distance at Flyby
April 20, 2010
16.455 AU

Halfway Heliocentric Distance Traveled from Earth at Launch to Pluto at Flyby
June 14, 2010
16.946 AU


Half the Days from Earth to Pluto
Oct. 17, 2010
18.078 AU
 
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3488

Guest
Annual Checkout 4 commenced on: Tuesday 25th May 2010.

Starting on Monday 21st June 2010, New Horizons will begin a series of instrument checks, taking distant images of Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune & KBO 134340 Pluto. Plasma data will be collected from a point close to the orbit of Uranus & there will be a 134340 Pluto encounter dress rehearsal regarding instrument pointing, spacecraft stabilization & data returns.

Andrew Brown.
 
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RVHM

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I don't know whether this is the right thread to ask this, since it's not specifically related to New Horizons, but...

If New Horizons had been launched by a huge rocket in the Ares V class, would it have been able to carry enough fuel to decelerate and enter orbit around Pluto? If it had enough fuel to do so, would there be still more available mass left to increase the nuclear fuel in NH so that it could last for longer?
 
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