NASA's New Horizons is an advanced probe recording and storing data about Pluto and its moons for a 9 years long mission from which it will be returning soon. But it has released first color image of Pluto-Charon.
Pluto has been the last visible yet the largest small planet in the Kulper Belt. For the past century, human race has developed technology that has been exploring the galaxy around the Earth.
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The flyby missions include flyby probes that have recorded the planets’ atmosphere, their climate, geography, topography and the mineral reservoirs. The flyby reconnaissance began with Venus and Mars in the early 1960s, and continued through first looks at Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn in the 1970s and Uranus and Neptune in the 1980s.
It was time to observe the third zone of the orbital system and its main component Kulper Belt in which Pluto and its moon Charon were the biggest bodies. Pluto is said to be the biggest and brightest body in the Kulper Belt. It’s study has been an objective in the 21st century and for that purpose, New Horizons was designed.
New Horizons is a a compact, lightweight, powerfully equipped probe packing the most advanced suite of cameras and spectrometers ever sent on a first reconnaissance mission. The spacecraft's suite of seven science instruments - which includes cameras, spectrometers, and plasma and dust detectors - will map the geology of Pluto and Charon and map their surface compositions and temperatures; examine Pluto's atmosphere, and search for an atmosphere around Charon; study Pluto's smaller satellites; and look for rings and additional satellites around Pluto.
Pluto, the largest known body in the Kuiper Belt, offers a nitrogen atmosphere, complex seasons, distinct surface markings, an ice-rock interior that may harbor an ocean, and at least five moons. The knowledge of the additional moons was acquired on reconnaissance and further information was added by the probe. It opens new possibilities to study them for possibilities.
Alice Bowman, New Horizons mission operations manager at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland revealed that they had to navigate to exact 7,750 miles (12,500 kilometers) distance for the probe to work effectively and collect as much data as possible.
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New Horizons has been on a flying mission since 2001 and it is probable to return in July this years about which Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado said"This is pure exploration; we're going to turn points of light into a planet and a system of moons before your eyes!"