Author Topic: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage  (Read 233392 times)

Offline Star One

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1060 on: 05/12/2017 10:20 PM »
If my quick math is correct, New Horizons is going around 30,000 mph. For some reason I thought is was going two or three times faster.

Matthew

I know it's been losing speed but I could swear I've seen a speed quoted much higher than your estimate?

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1061 on: 05/13/2017 11:35 AM »
If my quick math is correct, New Horizons is going around 30,000 mph. For some reason I thought is was going two or three times faster.

Matthew

According to the New Horizons mission web site. The heliocentric velocity is 14.28 km per second (31943.45 mph).

Offline Nomadd

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1062 on: 05/13/2017 01:36 PM »
If my quick math is correct, New Horizons is going around 30,000 mph. For some reason I thought is was going two or three times faster.

Matthew

I know it's been losing speed but I could swear I've seen a speed quoted much higher than your estimate?
The early high Heliocentric velocity was mostly from Earth's orbital motion being included.
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/life-unbounded/the-fastest-spacecraft-ever/
« Last Edit: 05/13/2017 01:38 PM by Nomadd »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1063 on: 05/21/2017 06:44 AM »
Quote
Beyond Pluto: Nasa's next New Horizon target is its biggest mystery yet
New Horizons has already shown Pluto to be a remarkably beautiful and active world, now it's headed for the icy frontier of our Solar System

By JAMES TEMPERTON
1 day ago

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/alan-stern-new-horizons-pluto-mu69-nasa-interview

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1064 on: 06/03/2017 06:49 AM »
Quote
May 25, 2017
New Horizons Deploys Global Team for Rare Look at Next Flyby Target

Mission Update: KBO Chasers

After months of preparing for the most technically sophisticated and challenging occultation campaign in history, it’s all coming down to the wild card – will there be clear skies? Go behind the scenes with New Horizons scientists “chasing” the shadow of the mission’s next flyby target across two continents, South America and Africa. Two seconds could change everything we know about a Kuiper Belt object known as 2014 MU69, a mysterious remnant of early solar system formation.

The Kuiper Extended Mission KBO Chasers, Part 1 - Getting Ready (large) (small)
The Kuiper Extended Mission KBO Chasers, Part 2 - Preparing for June 3, 2017 (large) (small)​
_____

On New Year’s Day 2019, more than 4 billion miles from home, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will race past a small Kuiper Belt object known as 2014 MU69 – making this rocky remnant of planetary formation the farthest object ever encountered by any spacecraft.

But over the next six weeks, the New Horizons mission team gets an “MU69” preview of sorts – and a chance to gather some critical encounter-planning information – with a rare look at their target object from Earth.

On June 3, and then again on July 10 and July 17, MU69 will occult – or block the light from – three different stars, one on each date. To observe the June 3 “stellar occultation,” more than 50 team members and collaborators are deploying along projected viewing paths in Argentina and South Africa. They’ll fix camera-equipped portable telescopes on the occultation star and watch for changes in its light that can tell them much about MU69 itself.

“Our primary objective is to determine if there are hazards near MU69 – rings, dust or even satellites – that could affect our flight planning,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. “But we also expect to learn more about its orbit and possibly determine its size and shape. All of that will help feed our flyby planning effort.”

What Are They Looking at?

In simplest terms, an astronomical occultation is when something moves in front of, or occults, something else. “When the moon passes in front of the sun and we have a solar eclipse, that's one kind of occultation,” said Joel Parker, a New Horizons co-investigator from SwRI. “If you're in the path of an eclipse, it means you're in the path of the shadow on Earth that’s created by the moon passing between us and the sun. If you're standing in the right place at the right time, the solar eclipse can last up to a few minutes.”

The team will have no such luxury with the MU69 occultations. Marc Buie, the New Horizons co-investigator from SwRI who is leading the occultation observations, said that because MU69 is so small – thought to be about 25 miles (40 kilometers) across – the occultations should only last about two seconds.  But scientists can learn a lot from even that, and observations from several telescopes that see different parts of the shadow can reveal information about an object’s shape as well as its brightness.

A Space Challenge

The mission team has 22 new, portable 16-inch (40-centimeter) telescopes at the ready, along with three other portables and over two-dozen fixed-base telescopes that will be located along the occultation path through Argentina and South Africa. But deciding exactly where to place them was a challenge.

This particular Kuiper Belt object was discovered just three years ago, so its orbit is still largely unknown. The team used star-position data from the extensive catalog of the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission and Hubble Space Telescope position measurements of MU69 to predict the narrow occultation path. But without a precise fix on the object’s position – or on the exact path its narrow shadow might take across Earth – the team is spacing the telescope teams along “picket fence lines,” one every 6 to 18 miles (10 or 25 kilometers), to increase the odds that at least one or more of the portable telescopes will catch the center of the event and help determine the size of MU69.

The other telescopes will provide multiple probes for debris that could be a danger to the fast-moving New Horizons spacecraft when it flies by MU69 at about 35,000 miles per hour (56,000 kilometers per hour), on Jan. 1, 2019.

“Deploying on two different continents also maximizes our chances of having good weather,” said New Horizons Deputy Project Scientist Cathy Olkin, from SwRI. “The shadow is predicted to go across both locations and we want observers at both, because we wouldn't want a huge storm system to come through and cloud us out — the event is too important and too fleeting to miss.”

The team gets help from above for the July 10 occultation, adding the powerful 100-inch (2.5-meter) telescope on NASA's airborne Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). Enlisting SOFIA, with its vantage point above the clouds, takes the bad weather factor out of the picture. The plane also should be able to improve its measurements by maneuvering into the very center of the occultation shadow. This continues a history of coordination between SOFIA and New Horizons missions. Researchers used SOFIA to make similar observations of Pluto as it passed in front of a background star, just before New Horizons flew past Pluto in 2015.

Insight for Encounter Planning

Any information on MU69, gathered from the skies or on the ground, is welcome. Carly Howett, deputy principal investigator of New Horizons' Ralph instrument, of SwRI, said so little is known about MU69 that the team is planning observations of a target it doesn’t fully understand – and time to learn more about the object is short. “We were only able to start planning the MU69 encounter after we flew by Pluto in 2015,” she said.  “That gives us two years, instead of almost seven years we had to plan the Pluto encounter. So it's a very different and, in many ways, more challenging flyby to plan.”

If weather cooperates and predicted targeting proves on track, the upcoming occultation observations could provide the first precise size and reflectivity measurements of MU69. These figures will be key to planning the flyby itself – knowing the size of the object and the reflectivity of its surface, for example, helps the team set exposure times on the spacecraft’s cameras and spectrometers.

“Spacecraft flybys are unforgiving,” Stern said. “There are no second chances. The upcoming occultations are valuable opportunity to learn something about MU69 before our encounter, and help us plan for a very unique flyby of a scientifically important relic of the solar system’s era of formation.”

Follow the observations in Argentina, South Africa and on board SOFIA on Facebook and Twitter using #mu69occ.

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/new-horizons-deploys-global-team-for-rare-look-at-next-flyby-target

First image caption:

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First look: Projected path of the 2014 MU69 occultation shadow, across South America and the southern tip of Africa, on June 3.
Credits: Lowell Observatory/Larry Wasserman

Second image caption:

Quote
New Horizons team members prepare one of the new 16-inch telescopes for deployment to occultation observation sites in Argentina and South Africa.
Credits: Kerri Beisser
« Last Edit: 06/03/2017 06:52 AM by FutureSpaceTourist »

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1065 on: 06/03/2017 09:46 PM »
Quote
The team gets help from above for the July 10 occultation, adding the powerful 100-inch (2.5-meter) telescope on NASA's airborne Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). Enlisting SOFIA, with its vantage point above the clouds, takes the bad weather factor out of the picture. The plane also should be able to improve its measurements by maneuvering into the very center of the occultation shadow. This continues a history of coordination between SOFIA and New Horizons missions. Researchers used SOFIA to make similar observations of Pluto as it passed in front of a background star, just before New Horizons flew past Pluto in 2015.

In one of the videos they mentioned that just the "picket fence" pattern is 40km tall/wide to make sure something is in the center.  So is SOFIA fast enough to keep  up with the shadow as it moves across the planet, or will they have it far enough ahead that early measurements will allow them to refine the shadow path and so flight path or something like that?

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1066 on: 06/05/2017 12:12 PM »
Quote
AlanStern‏ @AlanStern 31s32 seconds ago

Green beacon just received from New Horizons-- all's well in hibernation this week! #PlutoFlyby

https://twitter.com/AlanStern/status/871700778968170496

Offline Star One

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1067 on: 07/05/2017 07:03 PM »
New Mysteries Surround New Horizons’ Next Flyby Target
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft doesn’t zoom past its next science target until New Year’s Day 2019, but the Kuiper Belt object, known as 2014 MU69, is already revealing surprises.

Four members of the New Horizons’ South African observation team
Four members of the New Horizons’ South African observation team scan the sky while waiting for the start of the 2014 MU69 occultation, early on the morning of June 3, 2017.
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Henry Throop
Scientists have been sifting through data gathered from observing the object’s quick pass in front of a star – an astronomical event known as an occultation – on June 3. More than 50 mission team members and collaborators set up telescopes across South Africa and Argentina, along a predicted track of the narrow shadow of MU69 that the occultation would create on Earth’s surface, aiming to catch a two-second glimpse of the object’s shadow as it raced across the Earth. Accomplishing the observations of that occultation was made possible with the help of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Gaia, a space observatory of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Combined, the pre-positioned mobile telescopes captured more than 100,000 images of the occultation star that can be used to assess the environment around this Kuiper Belt object (KBO). While MU69 itself eluded direct detection, the June 3 data provided valuable and unexpected insights that have already helped New Horizons.

“These data show that MU69 might not be as dark or as large as some expected,” said occultation team leader Marc Buie, a New Horizons science team member from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado.

Initial estimates of MU69’s diameter, based primarily on data taken by the Hubble Space Telescope since the KBO’s discovery in 2014, fall in the 12-25-mile (20-40-kilometer) range – though data from this summer’s ground-based occultation observations might imply it’s at or even below the smallest sizes expected before the June 3 occultation.

Besides MU69’s size, the readings offer details on other aspects of the Kuiper Belt object.

“These results are telling us something really interesting,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of SwRI. “The fact that we accomplished the occultation observations from every planned observing site but didn’t detect the object itself likely means that either MU69 is highly reflective and smaller than some expected, or it may be a binary or even a swarm of smaller bodies left from the time when the planets in our solar system formed.”

More data are on the way, with additional occultations of MU69 occurring on July 10 and July 17. On July 10, NASA’s airborne Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) will use its powerful 100-inch (2.5-meter) telescope to probe the space around MU69 for debris that might present a hazard to New Horizons as it flies by in 18 months.

On July 17, the Hubble Space Telescope also will check for debris around MU69, while team members set up another groundbased “fence line” of small mobile telescopes along the predicted ground track of the occultation shadow in southern Argentina to try to better constrain, or even determine, the size of MU69.

Check out the star brightness, predicted shadow path and other tech specs for the July 10 and July 17 occultation events.
Last Updated: July 5, 2017

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/new-mysteries-surround-new-horizons-next-flyby-target

Offline Star One

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1068 on: 07/05/2017 07:10 PM »
This is also tangentially related to New Horizons

The Puzzling Detection of X-Rays from Pluto Friday, June 30, 2017

https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/su201724

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1069 on: 07/06/2017 06:45 AM »
So, what's the likelihood that 2014 MU69 will turn out to be a 'phantom' object created by dozens of separate instrumentation errors and misinterpretations of background objects that just happened to align well enough to convince astronomers there was a distant faint object there?
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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1070 on: 07/06/2017 07:00 AM »

Offline Nomadd

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1071 on: 07/06/2017 01:32 PM »
So, what's the likelihood that 2014 MU69 will turn out to be a 'phantom' object created by dozens of separate instrumentation errors and misinterpretations of background objects that just happened to align well enough to convince astronomers there was a distant faint object there?
I figure it's either that or evidence of an alien super structure.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1072 on: 07/06/2017 02:58 PM »
Or, it's swiss cheese and full of holes ;)
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It's your med's!

Offline Star One

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1073 on: 07/06/2017 06:56 PM »
This Sunday's Sky At Night in the U.K. will be talking to one of the New Horizon's team amongst other things.

https://mobile.twitter.com/BBCStargazing/status/882923613564829696

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1074 on: 07/10/2017 05:32 AM »
Quote
SOFIA to Make Advance Observations of Next New Horizons Flyby Object

On July 10, researchers using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, will attempt to study the environment around a distant Kuiper Belt Object, 2014 MU69, which is the next flyby target for NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft.

When New Horizons flies by it, MU69 will be the most distant object ever explored by a spacecraft, over a billion miles farther from our sun than Pluto. This ancient Kuiper Belt object is not well understood because it is faint, small (likely 12-25-mile (20-40-kilometer across, or possibly even smaller according to recent ground-based observations), and very far away (approximately 4.1 billion miles from Earth).

To study this distant object from Earth, the New Horizons team have used data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency' Gaia satellite to calculate where MU69 would cast a shadow on Earth’s surface as it passes in front of a star, an event known as an occultation. Based on this calculation -- which determined the shadow would pass over open water in the Pacific -- the SOFIA team will attempt to position the aircraft in the center of the shadow, pointing SOFIA’s telescope at MU69 when it passes in front of the background star. The New Horizons team will then analyze the data obtained with SOFIA to see how the light from the star changes as MU69 passes in front of it.

These observations will allow researchers to better understand the hazardous environment created by rings or other debris that may orbit MU69. This advance observation is a critical step in flyby planning before the New Horizons spacecraft arrives at MU69 on January 1, 2019.

The SOFIA observations on July 10 are another way SOFIA has been able to support the New Horizons mission, as it did in June 2015, before New Horizons made its historic flyby of Pluto.

“Back then, SOFIA was able to be in the center of Pluto’s shadow during the occultation event on June 29, 2015, providing a valuable atmospheric dataset in support of New Horizons,” said Kimberly Ennico Smith, SOFIA project scientist. “This year we’re continuing that collaboration, as SOFIA can provide information that will be critical to the New Horizons team’s plans for the MU69 flyby in 2019.”

There are differences that make SOFIA’s observations for the MU69 flyby more difficult than those done in support of the Pluto flyby. Because of its small size and large distance from Earth, the shadow cast by MU69 is about 100 times smaller than that of Pluto. This small size, relative to the positional accuracy of the aircraft, makes the planned observation very challenging for SOFIA. The small size of the shadow and the uncertainty in its position means that SOFIA might not succeed in flying through the shadow. Still, SOFIA may be able to provide important data given the plane’s vantage point from above the clouds, which removes bad weather as an observation obstacle, and given that the shadow falls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where it is inaccessible to smaller, ground-based telescopes.

Follow SOFIA and its missions across all social media platforms – @SOFIAtelescope, and keep up to date on the New Horizons mission by following their team blogs, the NASA New Horizons website, the mission’s KBO Chasers page, and #mu69occ.

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/sofia-to-make-advance-observations-of-next-new-horizons-flyby-object

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1075 on: 07/12/2017 12:00 AM »
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Yesterday's MU69 occultation flight on SOFIA went well. We got great data, but it'll be weeks before analysis is done. #Plutoflyby

https://twitter.com/AlanStern/status/884521329692557312

Offline Star One

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1076 on: 07/14/2017 08:18 PM »

Offline catdlr

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1077 on: 07/14/2017 11:23 PM »
New Horizons Flyover of Charon

NASA.gov Video
Published on Jul 14, 2017


Using actual New Horizons data and digital elevation models of Pluto and its largest moon Charon, mission scientists have created flyover movies that offer spectacular new perspectives of the many unusual features that were discovered and which have reshaped our views of the Pluto system – from a vantage point even closer than the spacecraft itself.

The exciting flight over Charon begins high over the hemisphere New Horizons saw on its closest approach, then descends over the deep, wide canyon of Serenity Chasma. The view moves north, passing over Dorothy Gale crater and the dark polar hood of Mordor Macula. The flight then turns south, covering the northern terrain of Oz Terra before ending over the relatively flat equatorial plains of Vulcan Planum and the “moated mountains” of Clarke Montes.


Digital mapping and rendering were performed by Paul Schenk and John Blackwell of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0Q7O7TZ7Ks?t=001

Tony De La Rosa

Offline Star One

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1078 on: 07/18/2017 07:35 PM »

Offline Star One

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Re: New Horizons Pluto Flyby Coverage
« Reply #1079 on: 07/19/2017 07:12 PM »
NASA’s New Horizons Team Strikes Gold in Argentina

Quote
A primitive solar system object that’s more four billion miles (6.5 billion kilometers) away passed in front of a distant star as seen from Earth. Just before midnight Eastern Time Sunday (12:50 a.m. local time July 17), several telescopes deployed by the New Horizons team in a remote part of Argentina were in precisely the right place at the right time to catch its fleeting shadow — an event that’s known as an occultation.

In a matter of seconds, NASA’s New Horizons team captured new data on its elusive target, an ancient Kuiper Belt object known as 2014 MU69. Weary but excited team members succeeded in detecting the spacecraft’s next destination, in what’s being called the most ambitious and challenging ground occultation observation campaign in history.

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-s-new-horizons-team-strikes-gold-in-argentina

Tags: New Horizons