Feeds

Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!

New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet

Intelligent flash storage arrays

NASA's New Horizons mission will arrive at Pluto 364 days from … now!

Launched in January 2006, the craft passed Jupiter back in 2007. It hasn't had much to do since, as while it has passed the orbits of Saturn, Uranus and Neptune the planets weren't there at the time.

NASA's not worried about that, because New Horizons' mission was always to visit Pluto and its moons. The craft will make its closest approach the infamously demoted-to-dwarf-planet-status body. Work will start long before then, with observations commencing five months before nearest approach. Ten weeks before arrival the craft will be able to produce images that better those captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. Six weeks later the craft will be making daily observations of Pluto and Charon.

Nine months after its encounter, in April 2016, all data from the fly-by will reach Earth, likely sparking rather a lot of activity among Pluto boffins.

By the time that download is complete, New Horizons should be rather busy trying to check out Kuiper Belt objects. The Hubble was recently tasked with finding interesting objects for New Horizons to focus its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager telescopic camera.

At Pluto, New Horizons will use an ultraviolet imaging spectrometer to analyse the atmosphere. A spectrometer will map the dwarf planet and a solar wind and plasma spectrometer will investigate how the orb interacts with Sol's emanations.

The craft is also carrying some PEPSSI – or at least an instrument called the Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation – that will measure “the composition and density of plasma (ions) escaping from Pluto's atmosphere.”

When New Horizons reaches Pluto it will be over three billion miles (4.8bn kms) from Earth and light will take over four hours to reach the craft. It therefore seems best to pencil July 15th into your diary for humanity's closest look at Pluto to date, as the time needed to retrieve and analyse data means as-close-to-realtime-as-possible release doesn't seem likely. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
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.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.