NASA's New Horizons Is Less Than A Month Away From Pluto Flyby

Posted: Jun 17 2015, 5:06am CDT | by , in Technology News


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NASA's New Horizons is Less than a Month Away from Pluto Flyby

NASA updates on the New Horizons mission to Pluto.

From the last NASA update we know that Pluto is bumpy according to the latest images of New Horizons. The Spacecraft is now less than a month away from the historic Pluto flyby.

NASA’s New Horizons team has executed a small but important course correction for the spacecraft this week, completed updated analyses of possible hazards in the Pluto system, and is picking up the pace of science-data collection.

A 45-second thruster burst on June 14 refined New Horizons’ trajectory toward Pluto, targeting the optimal aim point for the spacecraft’s flight through the Pluto system.

This was only the second targeting maneuver of New Horizons’ approach to Pluto; Sunday’s burst adjusted the spacecraft’s velocity by just 52 centimeters per second, aiming it toward the desired close-approach target point approximately 7,750 miles above Pluto’s surface.

Mark Holdridge, New Horizons encounter mission manager at APL, said "Without the maneuver, the spacecraft was on a line to arrive about 470 miles (755 kilometers) away from the aim point at Pluto, some 84 seconds earlier than desired. The New Horizons team will continue to analyze spacecraft navigation and tracking data with an eye on June 24, which would be the next opportunity for them to adjust course."

New Horizons is now less than 22 million miles from the Pluto system, or less than 100 times as far from Pluto as the moon is from Earth. The spacecraft is healthy and all systems are operating normally. Approach science operations resume today.

“Every day we break a new distance record to Pluto, and every day our data get better,” says mission Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. “Nothing like this kind of frontier, outer solar system exploration has happened since Voyager 2 was at Neptune way back in 1989. It’s exciting--come and watch as New Horizons turns points of light into a newly explored planetary system and its moons!”

The next update from NASA on the New Horizons mission is on Tuesday, June 23. NASA has setup a special New Horizons site with countdown and tons of information and media about the Pluto mission.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/2" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
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