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Fraser
2004-Jun-09, 06:41 PM
SUMMARY: Scheduled for launch in 2006, the New Horizons mission will finally get a close up view of Pluto, the only planet never visited by spacecraft. On board the robotic spacecraft will be the Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) instrument, which will measure the interactions between Pluto and the high-speed stream of particles flowing out from the Sun called the solar wind. Since it'll be so far from the Sun, SWAP will be largest aperture device ever built to measure the solar wind. It'll have lots of time to measure; the trip to Pluto will take 9 years.

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Manchurian Taikonaut
2004-Jun-09, 09:08 PM
what a great idea for a mission , and we have the Europe science people and the US NASA tem working together. What is the RSA is that Russian Program Assurance ?
I hope all goes well for this project. It would be great to finally get images of pluto and to understand the limits of our Sun's power.



pluto is the edge of the sol system, it would push out our limits to our understanding of the solar system and how the planets formed.

It would also be great if one final idea were considered in this mission, to test the limits and best techniques for robotic of space travel.

Using the latest methods, either solar sails, or nuclear powered flights using the latest fuel or maybe ion engines..sling shot around the planets or use the Sun and try and reach pluto as quickly as possible?
But to try and break the speed record at to reach pluto as fast as possible, if we really tried I'm sure we could get out there in a few months rather than waiting 9 years.

:)

TuTone
2004-Jun-10, 02:47 AM
Interesting! Can't wait for this mission. I'll be in my 30's to finally see what Pluto looks like. Hope I don't die of caner or in a car accident. I want to see images of Pluto.

John L
2004-Jun-10, 01:29 PM
This mission is also going to fly by at least one Kuiper Belt object after zipping past Pluto-Charon. It'll be good to finally get a good close-up study of one. I think we'll find that a few of the moons in the outer solar system just happen to be captured Kuiper Belt objects (Titan, Phoebe)

Darknesss
2004-Jun-10, 07:36 PM
Nice, but they should have launced it ten years ago, when pluto was nearing it's closest point to the earth/sun. :o Now they will have to travel longer. :unsure:

Planetwatcher
2004-Jun-10, 07:58 PM
I don't think that any propulsion technology under current development could possibly make it to Pluto in a matter of months.

Solar sails while much faster then conventional rockets will lose effectiveness with greater distance from the Sun, and will do little good past the asteroid belt.
Ion drives are virtually unlimited in speed potental, but extreamly slow in accelerating.

A solar sail/ion drive combination would be good, but it will still take an absolute minimum of 3 to 5 years to get to Pluto. And while we have working ion drives now, a decent solar sail is still years away.

On another note, I was reading in DISCOVER magazine the other day of just what it may be like on Pluto's surface.
The person being interviewed said it would be much brighter then we may think considering the distance to the Sun. He said the Sun side would be like our twilight. Just bright enough to read without additional light aides.

He also said there would be pink snow on the ground, and that Charon would be 10 times wider in the sky then our moon. Of coarse it would be very cold, but it still sounds like an interesting place to visit. :D

John L
2004-Jun-10, 10:06 PM
Charon and Pluto are also doubly resonant. Pluto's day is 6.39 Earth days. Charon's day is 6.39 Earth days. The Pluto-Charon month is 6.39 Earth days. That means that Charon always shows its same face to Pluto, like our Moon to Earth, and Charon is always over the exact same point on Pluto. If you lived on the opposite side of Pluto you would never know it had a moon.