Feeds

NASA Pluto mission looks good to go

January launch for New Horizons

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

NASA is making final preparations for the launch of its New Horizons mission to Pluto and moon Charon - the first dedicated trip to the distant planet.

New Horizons' antenna is attached. Photo: NASAThe New Horizons will blast off atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral no earlier than 17 January next year, and within a 35-day launch window. Once on its way, New Horizons will slingshot round Jupiter in 2007, thereby cutting the one-way trip by five years. The expected rendevous with Pluto could be as early as mid-2015.

Mary Cleave, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, enthused: "New Horizons will study a unique world, and we can only imagine what we may learn. This is a prime example of scientific missions that complement the Vision for Space Exploration."

Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator, added: "Exploring Pluto and the Kuiper Belt is like conducting an archeological dig into the history of the outer solar system, a place where we can peek into the ancient era of planetary formation."

New Horizons was designed and built at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. It weighs in at 1,050 pounds, and is nicely described as roughly the size of a piano. It boasts "imaging infrared and ultraviolet spectrometers, a multi-color camera, a long-range telescopic camera, two particle spectrometers, a space-dust detector and a radio science experiment".

The vehicle will spend most of its jaunt in hibernation mode, sending out a weekly beacon signal to report on status. Once a year, scientists will perform a health check to monitor "critical systems, calibrate instruments and perform course corrections, if necessary". New Horizons gets its juice from "a single radioisotope thermoelectric generator" and consumes less than 200 watts.

Once at Pluto, New Horizons will "characterize the global geology and geomorphology of Pluto and Charon, map their surface compositions and temperatures, and examine Pluto's atmospheric composition and structure". ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.