Author Topic: New Horizons updates  (Read 145228 times)

Offline Hop_David

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Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #360 on: 09/30/2015 04:40 PM »
In 2012 Buie, Tholen and Grundy wrote a paper The Orbit of Charon Is Circular.

Their models of tidal evolution predicted the Pluto/Charon would have a nearly circular orbit, an eccentricity very close to zero. There has also been speculation that obliquity is close to zero. Their models were somewhat supported by Hubble observations. But as we all know, Hubble images of Pluto and Charon are pretty low res. I am wondering if data from New Horizons has verified their predictions.

If so, this would make for a neat science fiction setting. With 0 eccentricity and 0 obliquity, the Pluto-Charon Lagrange 1 would hang motionless in the sky of Puto as well as Charon. Just as a Clarke tower would extend up and down from geostationary orbit, a Pluto-Charon elevator could extend Pluto-ward and Charon-ward from the Pluto-Charon L1. With 0 eccentricity and 0 obliquity, a beanstalk linking Pluto and Charon would not be flexed, stretched or bent by orbital motion.

The two dwarf planets could be linked. It would be a setting somewhat like Robert Forward's Rocheworld.

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #361 on: 10/22/2015 08:32 AM »
Per New Horizons Twitter account:

This week, the spacecraft is scheduled to carry out the first of four course correction burns to bring it onto intercept trajectory with KBO 2014 MU69... Which, IMO, ought to be given some kind of name before the probe arrives.
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Online catdlr

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Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #362 on: 01/10/2016 05:18 AM »
Flying over Charon

Published on Jan 9, 2016
NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Roman Tkachenko

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NewHorizonsIMG

Tony De La Rosa

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Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #363 on: 03/07/2016 06:18 PM »
How we flew a spacecraft 3 billion miles to Pluto | Katie Bechtold | TEDxMidAtlantic

Published on Mar 7, 2016
Katie Bechtold was a flight controller on NASA's New Horizons mission, which sent a spacecraft to Pluto. Katie shares the story behind the 9-year epic journey, which gave us the first detailed images of the planet, along with performing scientific experiments that will help us better understand Pluto's makeup.

Tony De La Rosa

Offline Chris Bergin

Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #364 on: 01/03/2017 07:42 PM »
Article by Chris Gebhardt:

New Horizons prepares for New Year’s Day 2019 Kuiper Belt Object encounter
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/01/new-horizons-2019-kuiper-belt-encounter/

Offline Chris Bergin

Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #365 on: 08/04/2017 08:17 PM »
New Horizons’ target a “science bonanza”, potential close or contact binary - by Chris Gebhardt:

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/08/new-horizons-science-bonanza-binary/

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #366 on: 08/04/2017 08:54 PM »
So a couple of weeks ago my coworker was in New Zealand. She was visiting her sister there. Her sister is one of the SOFIA 747 pilots, and the pilots had just celebrated some flight where they did an occultation. She didn't know the details, but apparently they had precisely hit the observing time and location and were very proud of that fact. A day after talking to her I saw an article indicating that the occultation flight that SOFIA did was to observe this object.

I work in the space business, but sometimes it's a really small world, huh?

Offline grythumn

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Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #367 on: 08/29/2017 03:48 PM »
Looking for possible 3rd flyby after Mu69 (Apr 26):

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2017/04/26/search-new-horizons-next-target/

Quote
Stern, the New Horizons mission lead, says the odds of finding yet another target are “small, but not zero.” That isn’t stopping scientists from searching. “We’re working on that right now,” Stern says. And they’ve turned to the Hubble Space Telescope once again.

New Horizons co-investigator Simon Porter, also from SwRI, says that the search that turned up 2014 MU69 only looked for cold classical Kuiper Belt objects, which have distinct orbital characteristics. He’s now expanding the search to include other worlds, which expands the potential targets. Porter says he hopes to find something called a scattered disk object. These worlds are remnants of the original Kuiper Belt that Neptune’s massive gravity flung all across the outer solar system. No one’s ever seen a scattered disk object up close.
[...]
Either way, this time it shouldn’t take a decade to find out if New Horizons has one more flyby left. “I actually hope to know by mid-year if there’s anything in that (Hubble Space Telescope) data,” Stern says.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #368 on: 09/06/2017 11:49 AM »
Quote
Green Beacon JUST received from @NewHorizons for this week! Next Monday we wake her up from hibernation for some SCIENCE! #PlutoFlyby

https://twitter.com/AlanStern/status/905202144046919680

Offline Star One

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New Horizons updates
« Reply #369 on: 09/06/2017 06:58 PM »
New Horizons Files Flight Plan for 2019 Flyby

NASA’s New Horizons mission has set the distance for its New Year’s Day 2019 flyby of Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, aiming to come three times closer to MU69 than it famously flew past Pluto in 2015.

That milestone will mark the farthest planetary encounter in history – some one billion miles (1.5 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto and more than four billion miles (6.5 billion kilometers) from Earth. If all goes as planned, New Horizons will come to within just 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers) of MU69 at closest approach, peering down on it from celestial north. The alternate plan, to be employed in certain contingency situations such as the discovery of debris near MU69, would take New Horizons within 6,000 miles (10,000 kilometers)— still closer than the 7,800-mile (12,500-kilometer) flyby distance to Pluto.

NASA’s New Horizons mission has set the distance for its New Year’s Day 2019 flyby of Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, aiming to come three times closer to MU69 than it famously flew past Pluto in 2015.

That milestone will mark the farthest planetary encounter in history – some one billion miles (1.5 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto and more than four billion miles (6.5 billion kilometers) from Earth. If all goes as planned, New Horizons will come to within just 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers) of MU69 at closest approach, peering down on it from celestial north. The alternate plan, to be employed in certain contingency situations such as the discovery of debris near MU69, would take New Horizons within 6,000 miles (10,000 kilometers)— still closer than the 7,800-mile (12,500-kilometer) flyby distance to Pluto.

Artist's concept of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flying by a possible binary 2014 MU69 on Jan. 1, 2019. Early observations of MU69 hint at the Kuiper Belt object being either a binary orbiting pair or a contact (stuck together) pair of nearly like-sized bodies with diameters near 20 and 18 kilometers (12 and 11 miles).

“I couldn’t be more excited about this encore performance from New Horizons,” said NASA Planetary Science Director Jim Green at Headquarters in Washington. “This mission keeps pushing the limits of what’s possible, and I’m looking forward to the images and data of the most distant object any spacecraft has ever explored.” 

If the closer approach is executed, the highest-resolution camera on New Horizons, the telescopic Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) should be able to spot details as small as 230 feet (70 meters) across, for example, compared to nearly 600 feet (183 meters) on Pluto.

“We’re planning to fly closer to MU69 than Pluto to get even higher resolution imagery and other datasets,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado. “The science should be spectacular.”

The team weighed numerous factors in making its choice, said science team member and flyby planning lead John Spencer, also of SwRI. “The considerations included what is known about MU69’s size, shape  and the likelihood of hazards near it, the challenges of navigating close to MU69 while obtaining sharp and well-exposed images, and other spacecraft resources and capabilities,” he said.

Using all seven onboard science instruments, New Horizons will obtain extensive geological, geophysical, compositional, and other data on MU69; it will also search for an atmosphere and moons.

“Reaching 2014 MU69, and seeing it as an actual new world, will be another historic exploration achievement,” said Helene Winters, the New Horizons project manager from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.  “We are truly going where no one has gone before. Our whole team is excited about the challenges and opportunities of a voyage to this faraway frontier.”

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/new-horizons-files-flight-plan-for-2019-flyby
« Last Edit: 09/06/2017 07:00 PM by Star One »

Offline Star One

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Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #370 on: 09/06/2017 07:04 PM »
Here's the time of closest approach.

Quote
AlanStern @AlanStern
Replying to @RealAntonioM and @NASA
05:33 UT on 1 Jan 2019

Offline Star One

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New Horizons updates
« Reply #371 on: 09/07/2017 07:08 PM »
Pluto Features Given First Official Names

It’s official: Pluto’s “heart” now bears the name of pioneering American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930. And a crater on Pluto is now officially named after Venetia Burney, the British schoolgirl who in 1930 suggested the name “Pluto,” Roman god of the underworld, for Tombaugh’s newly-discovered planet.

Tombaugh Regio and Burney crater are among the first set of official Pluto feature names approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the internationally recognized authority for naming celestial bodies and their surface features.

These and other names were proposed by NASA’s New Horizons team following the first reconnaissance of Pluto and its moons by the New Horizons spacecraft in 2015. The New Horizons science team had been using these and other place names informally to describe the many regions, mountain ranges, plains, valleys and craters discovered during the first close-up look at the surfaces of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon.

A total of 14 Pluto place names have now been made official by the IAU; many more will soon be proposed to the IAU, both on Pluto and on its moons. “The approved designations honor many people and space missions who paved the way for the historic exploration of Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, the farthest worlds ever explored,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado.

It’s official: Pluto’s “heart” now bears the name of pioneering American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930. And a crater on Pluto is now officially named after Venetia Burney, the British schoolgirl who in 1930 suggested the name “Pluto,” Roman god of the underworld, for Tombaugh’s newly-discovered planet.

Tombaugh Regio and Burney crater are among the first set of official Pluto feature names approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the internationally recognized authority for naming celestial bodies and their surface features.

These and other names were proposed by NASA’s New Horizons team following the first reconnaissance of Pluto and its moons by the New Horizons spacecraft in 2015. The New Horizons science team had been using these and other place names informally to describe the many regions, mountain ranges, plains, valleys and craters discovered during the first close-up look at the surfaces of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon.

A total of 14 Pluto place names have now been made official by the IAU; many more will soon be proposed to the IAU, both on Pluto and on its moons. “The approved designations honor many people and space missions who paved the way for the historic exploration of Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, the farthest worlds ever explored,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado.

Pluto’s first official surface-feature names are marked on this map.
Pluto’s first official surface-feature names are marked on this map, compiled from images and data gathered by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft during its flight through the Pluto system in 2015.
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Ross Beyer
“We’re very excited to approve names recognizing people of significance to Pluto and the pursuit of exploration as well as the mythology of the underworld. These names highlight the importance of pushing to the frontiers of discovery,” said Rita Schulz, chair of the IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature. “We appreciate the contribution of the general public in the form of their naming suggestions and the New Horizons team for proposing these names to us.”

Stern applauded the work of the New Horizons Nomenclature Working Group, which along with Stern included science team members Mark Showalter -- the group’s chairman and liaison to the IAU -- Ross Beyer, Will Grundy, William McKinnon, Jeff Moore, Cathy Olkin, Paul Schenk and Amanda Zangari.

The team gathered many ideas during the “Our Pluto” online naming campaign in 2015. Following on Venetia Burney’s original suggestion, several place names on Pluto come from underworld mythology. “I’m delighted that most of the approved names were originally recommended by members of the public,” said Showalter, of the SETI Institute, Mountain View, California.

The approved Pluto surface feature names are listed below. The names pay homage to the underworld mythology, pioneering space missions, historic pioneers who crossed new horizons in exploration, and scientists and engineers associated with Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.

Tombaugh Regio honors Clyde Tombaugh (1906–1997), the U.S. astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930 from Lowell Observatory in Arizona.

Burney crater honors Venetia Burney (1918-2009), who as an 11-year-old schoolgirl suggested the name "Pluto" for Clyde Tombaugh’s newly discovered planet. Later in life she taught mathematics and economics.

Sputnik Planitia is a large plain named for Sputnik 1, the first space satellite, launched by the Soviet Union in 1957.

Tenzing Montes and Hillary Montes are mountain ranges honoring Tenzing Norgay (1914–1986) and Sir Edmund Hillary (1919–2008), the Indian/Nepali Sherpa and New Zealand mountaineer were the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest and return safely.

Al-Idrisi Montes honors Ash-Sharif al-Idrisi (1100–1165/66), a noted Arab mapmaker and geographer whose landmark work of medieval geography is sometimes translated as "The Pleasure of Him Who Longs to Cross the Horizons.”

Djanggawul Fossae defines a network of long, narrow depressions named for the Djanggawuls, three ancestral beings in indigenous Australian mythology who traveled between the island of the dead and Australia, creating the landscape and filling it with vegetation.

Sleipnir Fossa is named for the powerful, eight-legged horse of Norse mythology that carried the god Odin into the underworld.

Virgil Fossae honors Virgil, one of the greatest Roman poets and Dante's fictional guide through hell and purgatory in the Divine Comedy.

Adlivun Cavus is a deep depression named for Adlivun, the underworld in Inuit mythology.

Hayabusa Terra is a large land mass saluting the Japanese spacecraft and mission (2003-2010) that performed the first asteroid sample return.

Voyager Terra honors the pair of NASA spacecraft, launched in 1977, that performed the first "grand tour" of all four giant planets. The Voyager spacecraft are now probing the boundary between the Sun and interstellar space.

Tartarus Dorsa is a ridge named for Tartarus, the deepest, darkest pit of the underworld in Greek mythology.

Elliot crater recognizes James Elliot (1943-2011), an MIT researcher who pioneered the use of stellar occultations to study the solar system – leading to discoveries such as the rings of Uranus and the first detection of Pluto's thin atmosphere.

The New Horizons spacecraft – built and operated at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, with a payload and science investigation led by SwRI -- is speeding toward its next flyby, this one with the ancient Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, a billion miles beyond Pluto, on Jan. 1, 2019.

Last Updated: Sept. 7, 2017

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/pluto-features-given-first-official-names
« Last Edit: 09/07/2017 07:09 PM by Star One »

Offline CuddlyRocket

Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #372 on: 09/08/2017 10:43 PM »
That milestone will mark the farthest planetary encounter in history ...

Planetary encounter? I'm not sure a flyby of a smallish KBO qualifies as a planetary encounter! (Not even if they say it twice. ;) )

Offline cscott

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Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #373 on: 09/09/2017 12:37 PM »
That milestone will mark the farthest planetary encounter in history ...

Planetary encounter? I'm not sure a flyby of a smallish KBO qualifies as a planetary encounter! (Not even if they say it twice. ;) )
Alan Stern thinks everything is a planet, even our Moon.

https://phys.org/news/2017-02-geophysical-planet-definition.html
« Last Edit: 09/09/2017 12:39 PM by cscott »

Offline Star One

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Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #374 on: 09/09/2017 12:48 PM »
That milestone will mark the farthest planetary encounter in history ...

Planetary encounter? I'm not sure a flyby of a smallish KBO qualifies as a planetary encounter! (Not even if they say it twice. ;) )
Alan Stern thinks everything is a planet, even our Moon.

https://phys.org/news/2017-02-geophysical-planet-definition.html

Don't be opening that can of worms on here again.

Offline Star One

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Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #375 on: 09/16/2017 02:15 PM »
Wakened from its latest hibernation, New Horizons may visit additional Kuiper Belt Objects

Quote
New software will be uploaded to the probe’s computers in October in preparation for the MU69 flyby while the mission operations and science teams will plan the details of the probe’s trajectory. A course correction maneuver aimed at setting the exact flyby time will be conducted on Dec. 9, 2017.

Quote
One particular finding – a lack of variation in MU69’s brightness as it rotates – could result in New Horizons not needing to adjust its path during the flyby, resulting in less fuel being used. Stern said the lack of brightness variation either means the object is not presenting vastly different cross-sections to us as it rotates, or telescopes are looking down the barrel of the rotation axis.

“It doesn’t matter where in the rotation phase we show up,” Stern said. “We are going to see about the same amount of terrain.”

Quote
Fuel saved during the MU69 encounter could be used to send New Horizons to a third KBO, a move that would require yet another mission extension. In 2016, NASA approved an extended mission for the MU69 flyby through the year 2021.

On Sept. 6, Stern told members of NASA’s Outer Planets Assessment Group that mission scientists are already searching for an additional KBO target.

“We have a fighting chance of having a second [Kuiper Belt Object] flyby,” Stern said.

Approval of another mission extension will also provide more opportunities for New Horizons to continue its distant observations of KBOs, dwarf planets, and centaurs. Stern said he expects to request a second extension once the MU69 flyby is completed and the data collected from it returned to Earth.

Even that might not be the mission’s end. Stern foresees additional extensions beyond the one that would take it to a second KBO.

“There’s fuel and power on board the spacecraft to operate it for another 20 years,” Stern said. “That’s not going to be a concern even for a third or fourth extended mission.”

The probe will be put into another hibernation on Dec. 22, 2017, where it will remain until June 4, 2018, when it will be woken up in preparation for the MU69 encounter, which will officially begin in August 2018.

Read more at http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/missions/solar-system/wakened-from-its-latest-hibernation-new-horizons-may-visit-additional-kbos/#s3X7isVlGEPJ6Sbm.99

Offline Chris Bergin

Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #376 on: 09/19/2017 11:28 PM »
ARTICLE:
New Horizons might get more flyby targets; Pluto features get official names - by Chris Gebhardt:

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/09/new-horizons-flyby-targets-pluto-official-names/

L2 Render via Nathan Koga.

Offline danielc56

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Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #377 on: 09/21/2017 07:55 PM »
Seriously awesome! The chance to explore that part of our Solar System again anytime soon is pretty small. So best to make use of the hardware that's already out there (and the team with all it's knowledge).

The mere possibility of visiting 3-4 more objects beyond Pluto has me super excited! I hope the team gets NASA's (and the federal government's) full support, and the little spacecraft can hold out long enough to provide us with amazing new science.

It's becoming more and more rare for there to be "firsts" in space exploration nowadays. The chance to explore a whole new section of space should definitely be taken advantage of.

danielc56 :)

Offline Star One

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New Horizons updates
« Reply #378 on: 09/26/2017 07:30 PM »
The New Horizons and Hubble Space Telescope Search For Rings, Dust, and Debris in the Pluto-Charon System

Quote
We searched for dust or debris rings in the Pluto-Charon system before, during, and after the New Horizons encounter. Methodologies included searching for back-scattered light during the approach to Pluto (phase ∼15∘), in situ detection of impacting particles, a search for stellar occultations near the time of closest approach, and by forward-scattered light during departure (phase ∼165∘). A search using HST prior to the encounter also contributed to the results. No rings, debris, or dust features were observed, but our detection limits provide an improved picture of the environment throughout the Pluto-Charon system. Searches for rings in back-scattered light covered 35,000-250,000 km from the system barycenter, a zone that starts interior to the orbit of Styx, and extends to four times the orbital radius of Hydra. We obtained our firmest limits using the NH LORRI camera in the inner half of this region. Our limits on the normal I/F of an unseen ring depends on the radial scale of the rings: 2×10−8 (3σ) for 1500 km wide rings, 1×10−8 for 6000 km rings, and 7×10−9 for 12,000 km rings. Beyond ∼100,000 km from Pluto, HST observations limit normal I/F to ∼8×10−8. Searches for dust from forward-scattered light extended from the surface of Pluto to the Pluto-Charon Hill sphere (rHill=6.4×106 km). No evidence for rings or dust was detected to normal I/F limits of ∼8.9×10−7 on ∼104 km scales. Four occulation observations also probed the space interior to Hydra, but again no dust or debris was detected. Elsewhere in the solar system, small moons commonly share their orbits with faint dust rings. Our results suggest that small grains are quickly lost from the system due to solar radiation pressure, whereas larger particles are unstable due to perturbations by the known moons.

https://arxiv.org/abs/1709.07981
« Last Edit: 09/26/2017 07:31 PM by Star One »

Online catdlr

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Re: New Horizons updates
« Reply #379 on: 09/26/2017 10:07 PM »
Exotic Ice Formations Found on Pluto

NASA's Ames Research Center
Published on Sep 26, 2017

NASA’s New Horizons mission revolutionized our knowledge of Pluto when it flew past that distant world in July 2015. Among its many discoveries were images of strange formations (https://www.nasa.gov/feature/scientists-offer-sharper-insight-into-pluto-s-bladed-terrain) resembling giant blades of ice, whose origin had remained a mystery.

Now, scientists have turned up a fascinating explanation for this “bladed terrain”: the structures are made almost entirely of methane ice, and likely formed as a specific kind of erosion wore away their surfaces, leaving dramatic crests and sharp divides.

More info: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/ames/solving-the-mystery-of-pluto-s-giant-blades-of-ice

Video credit: NASA's Ames Research Center

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSKQwwWehEs?T=001

Tony De La Rosa

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