New Horizons Mission Update Thread (Part Two)

Page 6 - Seeking answers about space? Join the Space community: the premier source of space exploration, innovation, and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier.
Status
Not open for further replies.
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
I doubt capture in pluto orbit would have been possible, unless the mission took 20 or 30 years to get there so the speeds would have been more closely matched.

In any case, that would have but it into the 2-3 billion dollar Flagship Mission class, which means it would never have happened at all. It is a New Frontiers class mission (< $700 million) which happen every ~ 36 months.
 
3

3488

Guest
Thanks Wayne, I was trying to think of an intelligent answer. :shock:

The bottom line is RVMH is that in order for New Horizons to brake into orbit around 134340 Pluto, the retro rocket would have to be almost as large as the Atlas 5 that launched New Horizons from Cape Canaveral on Earth, assuming the same date of arrival.

Otherwise as Wayne correctly says, with a more normal retrorocket like those on Galileo or Cassini, then we are looking at an enormous journey time to allow for a slow approach.

Worth bearing in mind 134340 Pluto has only approx 16% the mass of our Moon or 12% of Io or 7% of Ganymede or 1.8% that of Mercury. We are not dealing with a large gravity well to 'drop' into.

New Horizons will provide orbiter quality data of both 134340 Pluto & Charon, Nix will be very well seen & even some decent'ish' views of Hydra. All this will provide the ground work for a potential future orbital, lander mission to 134340 Pluto, when propulsion technology has advanced.

New Horizons is as Wayne says a New Frontier Mission, one with a low budget cap & New Horizons is worth every single cent spent on it, as is the whole of NASA's planetary exploration program, (I was part of the campaigns to prevent New Horizon's, DAWN's & Phoenix Mars Lander's cancellations).

Andrew Brown.
 
B

brandbll

Guest
Are we going to get a 360 degree view of Pluto or will NH be traveling to fast get a complete 360 degree view? Are they very far along in slecting Kuiper Belt objects that they are going to target?
 
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
brandbll":33cvo0wz said:
Are we going to get a 360 degree view of Pluto or will NH be traveling to fast get a complete 360 degree view? Are they very far along in slecting Kuiper Belt objects that they are going to target?
Well, we'll get some kind of view of the whole surface. At 10 weeks from CA (Close Approach) the view will be better than what we get from the HST. Daily obs are 4 weeks either side of CA. However, since Pluto rotates on it's side (like Uranus) with ~ 6.4 day period, we will be seeing one pole (well lit) on the way in, then the other pole (in darkness) on the way out.

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/mission/mission_timeline.php

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/mission/images/ ... unter3.jpg

As far as future objects in the KB, I doubt they have made any firm decisions yet. With PanSTARRS and WISE just beginning to return data, there's enough time (> 5 years) to find the best targets and plan for it.

MW
 
3

3488

Guest
Also the darkened pole will be seen Charonlit, New Horizons will take long exposures of 134340 Pluto's nightside lit by reflected sunlight from Charon.

We will have good coverage of 134340 Pluto, one side will be seen in stunning detail in it's entirety, like the Voyager 2 mosaic view of Neptune moon Triton, but with a footprint of 45 metre resolution at CA. Charon too will be seen in knock your socks off detail with a footprint of approx 100 metre resolution at CA.

As Wayne correctly says approx 10 weeks prior to CA, New Horizons will be seeing more detail than we have had from HST to date. So as Pluto & Charon are in synchronous rotation with one another (Charon is in Hadesynchronous orbit around Pluto, so both objects keep the same face towards each other).

So think, that's just 3.2 days prior to CA, which is half a 134340 Pluto rotation from CA, it will be detailed enough to show specific craters & mountains with the LORRI camera.

The best views of Charon will be on the 134340 Pluto facing side, best views of 134340 Pluto will be the anti Charon side.

Post CA, New Horizons will turn back & view both 134340 Pluto & Charon at high phase, both will be crescents, Charon lit 134340 Pluto obs will be carried out, as will Earth & Sun occultations by both, searching for atmospheric hazes (if they exist), dust rings (Nix & Hydra may have created some) & also possibly 134340 Plutolit, Charon observations, approx 3 days after CA.

Andrew Brown.
 
B

bushuser

Guest
The spacecraft is carrying several spectrometers...indeed the science package is mostly spectrometers and a camera.

How much is spectrometer performance affected by the low-light condition of Pluto? I expect the surface to be like a moonlit night on earth
 
3

3488

Guest
Spectrometers will work fine. Even at the orbit of 134340 Pluto, sunlight is still approx 500 times that of full moonlight, or about 1/900th that on Earth. In order for the Sun to appear about as bright as a full moon, the distance would be about 640 AU!!!!!!.

ALICE, LEISA & RALPH as well as the LORRI camera will work just fine, they were designed for this & even lower lighting levels.

It's worth mentioning we have spectrometers sensitive enough to work at much lower light levels.

Andrew Brown.
 
3

3488

Guest
New Horizons during ACO4 (Annual Check Out 4) images Jupiter, Neptune & Open Cluster M7 in Scorpius using LORRI.

The Jupiter observation was a rehearsal for looking back at KBO 134340 Pluto & Charon post closest approach when they appear as crescents.

New Horizons images Jupiter, Neptune & Open Cluster M7 in Scorpius.

Jupiter, Ganymede & Europa from 16.4 AU. The half lit Jupiter is 12 pixels long.


Neptune from 23.2 AU.


Messier 7 Cluster in Scorpius from New Horizons.


Andrew Brown.
 
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/news_center/news/20100701.php

July 1, 2010

Course Correction Keeps New Horizons on Path to Pluto
A short but important course-correction maneuver kept New Horizons on track to reach the “aim point” for its 2015 encounter with Pluto.

The deep-space equivalent of a tap on the gas pedal, the June 30 thruster-firing lasted 35.6 seconds and sped New Horizons up by just about one mile per hour. But it was enough to make sure that New Horizons will make its planned closest approach 7,767 miles (12,500 kilometers) above Pluto at 7:49 a.m. EDT on July 14, 2015.

Reflections: What “pushed” New Horizons slightly off course? According to mission navigation team members from KinetX, Inc., it was a tiny amount of force created from thermal photons from New Horizons’ radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) power source - reflecting off the backside of the spacecraft’s high-gain antenna.

Commands for the preprogrammed maneuver were transmitted to the spacecraft’s computers on June 24; the burn went off as planned Wednesday at 3 p.m. EDT. New Horizons was more than 1.49 billion miles (2.4 billion kilometers) from Earth at the time of the maneuver; at that distance, nearing the orbit of Uranus, a radio signal from the spacecraft needs more than 2 hours, 13 minutes to reach Earth.

Mission operators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., received confirmation of the successful firing through NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna station near Madrid, Spain.
 
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
While SDC was sleeping this morning, New Horizons passed another halfway mark on it's journey to the Pluto system. About 5 AM EDT, it was 1984.5 days since launch, and 1984.5 days to the beginning of encounter observations on April 12, 2015.

Closest approach to Pluto is about 3 months later on July 14, 2015.
 
E

EarthlingX

Guest
www.physorg.com : Student dust counter breaks distance record on New Horizons mission to Pluto
October 12, 2010


CU-Boulder graduate student Andrew Poppe of the physics department is part of a student team at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics that designed and built the Student Dust Counter instrument now flying on NASA's New Horizons spacecraft that is headed for Pluto. Credit: Glenn Asakawa/ University of Colorado

A University of Colorado at Boulder space dust counter designed, tested and operated by students that is flying aboard NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto now holds the record for the most distant working dust detector ever to travel through space.

The instrument on the New Horizons mission -- officially named the Venetia Burney Student Dust Counter, or SDC, after an 11-year-old English girl who named Pluto more than 75 years ago -- reached a distance of 1.67 billion miles from Earth on Oct. 10. Designed by a student team from CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, SDC was launched in 2006 aboard the New Horizons spacecraft, which is now slightly beyond the orbit of Uranus.

Dust grains in the solar system are of high interest to researchers because they are the building blocks of the solar system's planets. Scientists are particularly interested in dust that New Horizons is expected to encounter in the Kuiper Belt, a vast region beyond Neptune's orbit that contains thousands of icy objects that are thought to contain samples of ancient material formed in the solar system billions of years ago.

The only other dust-detecting instruments to measure space dust beyond the orbit of Jupiter -- which is inside the orbit of Uranus -- flew aboard NASA's Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 spacecraft in the 1970s.

"The New Horizons mission is going to break a lot of records, but this early one is one of the sweetest," said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder. "We're very proud to be collecting solar system dust data farther out than any mission ever has, and we're even prouder to be carrying the first student-built and student-operated science instrument ever sent on a planetary space mission," said Stern, a former faculty member at CU-Boulder.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be part of the group of students who made this happen," said Andrew Poppe, a CU graduate student in physics who helps operate LASP's SDC and analyze the data. "We built a record-breaking, successful instrument that is taking scientific measurements to advance our understanding of the role of dust in our solar system."
...
 
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
At about 11 PM EDT tonight (0300 UTC tomorrow) New Horizons will reach the exact halfway time between launch and Pluto close approach. There will then be 1731 days, 8 hours, and about 24 minutes until close approach! (Tentatively scheduled for 11:49:59 UTC July 14, 2015...approximately :)

Wayne
 
3

3488

Guest
Interesting article on the heliocentric orbit of the Atlas V Second Stage that launched New Horizons.

Article here.

Apparently there was a red beacon on Monday as the onboard computer rebooted by itself. All is under control & New Horizons is OK.

Andrew Brown.
 
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
Oct 18 PI Perspective::

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/overview/piPers ... 10_18_2010

Excerpts:

On Sunday, Oct. 17, at 3:24 Universal Time, we passed the halfway mark in the number of days from launch to Pluto encounter – the last of our halfway milestones en route to Pluto! From here, we have fewer days in front of us than behind us...

The other unplanned event came just over 10 days ago. On Oct. 6, when we checked for our monthly telemetry data from the spacecraft, there was no signal received on the ground! This had never happened in almost five years of flight, and it could have been very serious, as it could have meant a major malfunction aboard the spacecraft. But as it turned out, the problem wasn’t on the spacecraft at all – it was a mis-configuration of the receiving antenna. After resolving that, we received the hoped-for telemetry from New Horizons later in the day. Needless to say, we all had a little more stress that day than we’d planned, but the telemetry did show that everything aboard our spacecraft was functioning as it should...

The main purpose of the 10-day November wakeup will be to re-point our communication antenna to account for the motion of the Earth around the Sun, and to gather tracking data for our navigation team. We’ll also be uplinking the command load (i.e., the set of detailed computerized instructions) that will direct spacecraft activities through Jan. 2, when we’ll do another 10-day hibernation wakeup with similar goals.

This has become our standard pattern: a long hibernation wakeup for a summertime checkout and two short wake ups in November and January for tracking and antenna re-pointing.

We often use the brief November and January wakeups to accomplish other goals as well, and this time will be no different. For example, next month we’ll be downlinking a few last portions of science instrument data from ACO-4, and we’ll also be “dumping” Student Dust Counter cruise science data. In January, we’ll again dump SDC cruise science data and also be erasing some onboard solid-state data recorder segments that have now been transmitted to terra firma...

In Other News . . .

In addition to all the activity that’s been taking place over at New Horizons operations, there are a few more tidbits of mission-related news I’d like to share.

One is that planetary astronomer Scott Sheppard, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, announced that he’s found the first asteroid in Neptune’s trailing Trojan zone (i.e., the L5 point), which New Horizons will fly through in 2013-2014. While the object Scott found (called 2008 LC18) is not within our reach for a bonus flyby, its discovery shows that additional and potentially closer Neptune Trojans that New Horizons might be able to study could be discovered in the next three years...

And finally, as New Horizons passed the 18 AU (astronomical unit) mark from the Sun earlier this month, our Student Dust Counter (SDC) took the record for being the farthest operating dust detector ever from the venerable Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft, whose dust detectors quit operating at this distance back in the early 1980s. From here on out, SDC is truly exploring uncharted territory for cosmic dust science!
 
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
Nov 9 PI Perspective (Alan Stern, in case you didn't know)

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/overview/piPers ... 11_09_2010


November 9, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, on my way to a suborbital/commercial spaceflight conference, I stopped in Mesilla, New Mexico, to see the widow, daughter and son-in-law of Clyde Tombaugh – the discoverer of Pluto, dwarf planets and the Kuiper Belt. I was still excited about the latest New Horizons accomplishment: reaching the halfway point, in days, (link to http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/overview/piPers ... 10_18_2010) on our incredible voyage to Pluto.

During the visit, in Mrs. Patsy Tombaugh’s home, I presented the family with specially made “Halfway to Pluto” coffee mugs.

More at the link...
 
B

Boris_Badenov

Guest
Post Pluto CA how much manuvering ability will New Horizons have? How long will it have full instument capabilites? At what distance will it's ability to transmit usable information cease?
 
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
I haven't seen any specific info on that anywhere in the materials I've read. I guess much will depend on how the next 4.6 years go.

They are planning at least one KBO encounter (target not selected yet) planned, so there must be a significant margin.
 
3

3488

Guest
That's a great question.

At 134340 Pluto, New Horizons data return is quite slow, only 1 KB/S, (kilobits per second) where as at Jupiter it was 38 KB/S. So increase the distance by 50% & the signal strength received is halved. Using this logic New Horizons will still be able to return data at 500 bits per second at approx 60 AU. I think communication per se is not the issue, it is the data return that will be. New Horizons will have to talk 'slowly' so what is picked up is clearer.

The onboard computer has eight gigabytes of storage so everything the instruments will obtain at 134340 Pluto will be stored for playback. There will be an initial compressed download soon after CA, so we should see what Pluto & Charon look like within the first 24 hours, but it will take months to download all of the uncompressed images & non imaging data. It is known the onboard storage works well, as much of the Jupiter data was stored onboard & there were no omissions or errors reported.

I just realised New Horizons data return from Jupiter was very similar to that from Voyager 2 at Neptune!!!!!

Certainly further KBO encounters are indeed possible, but as Wayne correctly says, none have been firmly identified for further New Horizons encounters. There was a rumour a while back of possibly two 50 KM wide KBOs being considered (NH might be able to visit both), but nothing for some time now on that.

I understand too, that NH's forward view is also against the backdrop of the Milky Way in Sagittarius, so dificult to pick out slow moving, faint KBOs. However the situation will improve as the KBO 134340 Pluto eventually moves away from the Milky Way to a darker backdrop closer to the border with Capricornus from NH's direction, further KBOs will be much easier to identify then.

Concerning instrument capabilities we'll know more in 4 - 6 years as Wayne says. NH was designed for a post 134340 Pluto encounter with further KBOs, though obviously 134340 Pluto & Charon are primary mission objectives, though Nix & Hydra are now part of the primary mission manifest. In fact we will get some great Nix data as by sheer chance Nix & NH will both be on the same side of 134340 Pluto during the approach. Hydra will unfortunately will be over the far side at CA, but the LORRI camera will still resolve a fair few surface details on Hydra. I suspect that all intruments will still be fully operational post 134340 Pluto. New Horizons is entering a region of space that is fairly benign, with low radiation levels, the main hazard is interplanetary dust, but that's the same for any mission. Also the RTG will also be producing less power by then, but will still be sufficient for further encounters for quite some time post 134340 Pluto.

A mission that will be having a tough time for sure will be the Mercury bound MESSENGER mission, which at times receives 11 times the solar insolance @ perihelion than the Earth / Moon system does & will also have to enter Hermcentirc orbit & carry out operations 24/7, dipping in & out of Mercury's shadow, twice every 24 hours. Compared to MESSENGER, New Horizons is having it very easy indeed & even at 134340 Pluto will be easy as compared to MESSENGER at Mercury.

Andrew Brown.
 
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
Good summary Andrew, thanx. I would suspect that the KBO objects(s) will be selected and targeted based on earth observations, so the backdrop shouldn't cause much of a problem, other than ID'ing it once NH gets close.

As of June, there were 1,412 (224 numbered, 1,188 provisional) known Outer Solar System objects (Including comets and asteroids, but not the 4 dwarf planets). I'm sure the the number will be far higher by the time NH arrives at Pluto and friends :)

An interesting chart of Solar System object counts over time. Note the vertical number scale is logrithmic!!

http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/astro/sspopsgraph.html

MW
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS