Feeds

NASA probe now closer than ANY OTHER spacecraft to Pluto

Breaks Voyager 1 record set in 1986

Top three mobile application threats

A NASA probe came closer to Pluto than any other vessel in the history of space travel on 2 December.

The New Horizons mission broke the closest-approach mark to the dwarf planet of 1.58 billion kilometers that was set by NASA's Voyager 1 in January 1986.

To reach that milestone, the spacecraft spent 2,143 days, or nearly six years, in high-speed flight. It covered around 1 million kilometers per day.

“What a cool milestone!” New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute said.

“Although we’re still a long way - 1.5 billion kilometers from Pluto - we’re now in new territory as the closest any spacecraft has ever gotten to Pluto, and getting closer every day by over a million kilometers."

The spacecraft is currently as far from Pluto as Earth is from Saturn, the New Horizons team said in a blog post.

Pluto, which was demoted to a dwarf planet in August 2006, is about 5 billion kilometers from Earth.

The New Horizons probe is expected to pass through the Pluto system in mid-2015, by which time the team expects to see features as small as a football field.

“We’ve come a long way across the solar system,” said New Horizons project manager Glen Fountain, who works at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

“When we launched [on 19 January 2006] it seemed like our 10-year journey would take forever, but those years have been passing us quickly. We’re almost six years in flight, and it’s just about three years until our encounter begins.”

New Horizons is only the fifth such vessel to transverse interplanetary space so far from the Sun, and it's the first to travel so far to reach a new planet for exploration.

“I wonder how long it will be until the next Pluto spacecraft - perhaps a future orbiter or lander - crosses this distance marker?” Fountain added. “It could be decades.”

The New Horizons vessel is currently in hibernation, a setting it has been switched to for much of its journey since lift-off nearly six years ago. It is moving more than 55,500 kilometers per hour away from the Sun.

It will be taken out of sleep mode in January 2012, when operators at the Applied Physics Lab will spend a month testing and maintaining the craft to ensure that New Horizons is still healthy.

The vehicle has imaging infrared and ultraviolet spectrometers on board, as well as a multi-colour camera, a long-range telescopic camera, two particle spectrometers, a space-dust detector and a radio science experiment.

Its purpose is to "characterise the global geology and geomorphology" of Pluto and the dwarf planet's moon Charon. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.