Pluto Flyby (NASA New Horizons probe)

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Pluto Flyby (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on February 17th, 2015, 3:18 pm 

In parallel with JPL's Dawn probe approaching Ceres in the main asteroid belt (see thread), we also have the New Horizons probe approaching Pluto.

New Horizons is being managed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Article (Feb 12th): http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/New ... e=20150212

Here we see Charon and Pluto spinning about each other, as both perturb each other's position in proportion to their respective masses.

Image
Last edited by zetreque on July 17th, 2015, 10:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Darby's request for title change.
Darby
 
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Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on February 17th, 2015, 3:33 pm 

Here's pluto:

http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=p ... ;cad=0#orb

Open that link in another tab. You may need to zoom out to see it ... just scroll down to where it says “Orbit” and use the horizontal slider to the right of it to zoom out slightly, until the outermost orbit changes from Jupiter to Pluto.

Next, if you grab the vertical slider to the right of the orbital image and move it up and down, you can change the orientation of the orbital plane, and you can see how pluto is not in the same plane as most of the other planets in our solar system.
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on February 17th, 2015, 3:59 pm 

I havent found a convenient timetable of maneuvers and dates/ranges yet, but the video shows OpNav2 through the end of January. It's Mid Feb now, so I'd guess it's close to RC1 or RC2.

If someone finds one, please post linkage.
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on February 17th, 2015, 10:50 pm 

BTW, since this is a pluto thread, I dont wanna see anyone beating on Neil deGrasse Tyson, who was totally correct in Pluto's demotion from planet to planetoid {dwarf planet} status. It's a Kuiper belt object, and there may be even bigger ones further out.
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Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Marshall on February 18th, 2015, 6:07 pm 

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-la ... hydra.html
=quote=
Posted By Emily Lakdawalla

2015/02/18 17:43 UTC

Topics: trans-neptunian objects, New Horizons, pretty pictures, Pluto, Charon, dwarf planets beyond Neptune, animation

A series of images just sent to Earth from New Horizons clearly shows Pluto's moons Nix and Hydra orbiting the Pluto-Charon binary. These were not easy observations to make; the moons are tiny and dark, reflecting few photons to New Horizons' LORRI camera. New Horizons is still at a distance where it operates more like an astronomy mission than a geology mission, using long exposures, stacking images, and binning data to detect the faint signals of the little moons from among the background noise. But the moons are unmistakably there:

[pictures omitted, you can see them at Lakdawalla's blog]

Nix orbits Pluto and Charon once in 25 days; Hydra, once in 38 days. To make these animations, LORRI was commanded to stare at Pluto for 10 seconds at a time, gathering 5 of these observations every 2 days. At its native resolution, LORRI's camera produces images 1024 pixels square, but the faint signal from Nix and Hydra would not be easy to detect in such images. To improve the signal-to-noise ratio, the original images were binned as they were read out of the chip: 16 pixels were read out as one, producing images only 256 pixels on a side. Binning reduces the resolution of the images, but reduces noise; and binning has the added benefit of reducing the data volume required for these observations. Even at full resolution, Nix and Hydra were just point light sources anyway.
==endquote==
She shows two animated pictures.
Marshall
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on February 24th, 2015, 12:04 pm 

Nothing new yet.

Current position charts:

Image

Image
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Marshall on February 24th, 2015, 1:26 pm 

Darby, I don't know much about the NewH mission. Don't hesitate to add more detail.
I looked a webpage on the spacecraft layout and instruments:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newho ... OywqUI-DVo
and was interested by an unlabeled black cylindrical projection off to the right.

the half-dozen instruments are all labeled, by their names, and the experiments/observations they perform are described

but no explanation of that projection which looks like a bundle of tubes, or a finned or bumpy ridged and grooved cylinder.

what do you guess that does?

My guess is that it has something to do with attitude control.

You could rotate the probe (say to point the antenna back at Earth) by expelling a small whiff of gas from a tiny sideways hole out near the end of that lever-arm projection.

Any ideas about its function? Do you know of a website that has more detailed information? I haven't made a search
Marshall
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on February 24th, 2015, 2:14 pm 

Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Marshall on February 24th, 2015, 4:56 pm 

Of course! I should have thought of that! The radiative cooling fins. I knew many space probes are powered by radioisotope heat, but didn't have a mental picture of what it would look like. Now I do. Thanks.
Marshall
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on February 24th, 2015, 9:22 pm 

I suspect that assembly and those fins aren't just for power and cooling. Hypothetically speaking, if the New Horizons probe was a large tropical bird from an alien planet, I'd suggest that whole assembly might serve a dual purpose role as both a reproductive and threat display organ.

Hey, if you were six years and 30+ AU's from home, you'd be lonely and hard up for companionship too !
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Marshall on February 24th, 2015, 10:37 pm 

Heh heh,
On another Pluto topic I noticed this:
https://twitter.com/NASANewHorizons/sta ... 7640451074

Apparently it's estimated that Pluto's ATMOSPHERE can extend farther out than you might expect because there is lower temperature and less solar wind to blow it away. In our atmosphere the UV can break molecules and there is enough heat that some atoms actually have escape velocity (and can leave Earth gravity) just by thermal motion.

But this NASA clip raises the question of how "big" is Pluto atmosphere, how far out does it extend?
Marshall
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on February 25th, 2015, 6:25 am 

I suspect the elliptical nature of Pluto's orbit may be only partially responsible for the presence of its atmosphere. I'm guessing that there will be a fair amount of radioactive materials present. Not enough for a hot molten core, but just enough to help make the periodic partial changes in state we're seeing in the atmosphere.
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on February 28th, 2015, 10:15 am 

Getting ready for the forthcoming flyby:

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/PI- ... 02_26_2015
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on March 7th, 2015, 2:47 pm 

Very cool article on the orbital resonance between pluto and neptune.

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Participate/lea ... link=Orbit

Orbital timeline:
Image

Resonance with Neptune:
Image
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on March 8th, 2015, 12:09 am 

Looks like the next target after the pluto flyby will be the unnamed kuiper belt object currently labeled "PT1".

Image

Article:

http://spaceflightnow.com/2014/10/19/la ... -horizons/
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on March 9th, 2015, 1:41 am 

Mission timeline:
January 19, 2006 - Launch
January 28, 2006 - Trajectory correction maneuver (TCM)
January 30, 2006 - Trajectory correction maneuver (TCM)
March 9, 2006 - Trajectory correction maneuver (TCM)
April 7, 2006 - Mars orbit crossing
June 11-13, 2006 - New Horizons "tracks" asteroid 2002 JF56 (later named "APL")
September 21, 2006 - First New Horizons images (with LORRI) of Pluto
February 28, 2007 - Jupiter flyby/gravity assist
June 27, 2007 - New Horizons' first entry into hibernation
September 25, 2007 - Trajectory correction maneuver (TCM)
September-November 2007 - Annual checkout (ACO) 1
June 8, 2008 - Saturn orbit crossing
July-August 2008 - Annual checkout (ACO) 2
July-August 2009 - Annual checkout (ACO) 3
December 29, 2009 - New Horizons reaches the halfway point (in distance traveled) to Pluto
May-July 2010 - Annual checkout (ACO) 4
June 30, 2010 - Trajectory correction maneuver (TCM)
October 16, 2010 - New Horizons reaches halfway point (in time traveled) to Pluto
March 18, 2011 - Uranus orbit crossing
May-July 2011 - Annual checkout (ACO) 5
December 2, 2011 - New Horizons becomes the closest spacecraft to Pluto
May-July 2012 - Annual checkout (ACO) 6
May-August 2013 - Annual checkout (ACO) 7
July 22-26, 2013 - Pre-Encounter Pluto System Science Conference
June-August 2014 - Annual checkout (ACO) 8; Optical navigation (OpNav) campaign 1
July 15, 2014 - Trajectory correction maneuver
August 25, 2014 - Neptune orbit crossing
December 6, 2014 - Final wake-up from hibernation
January 15, 2015 - Pluto encounter/approach phase 1 begins
January 25, 2015 - Optical navigation (OpNav) campaign 2 begins
February 18, 2015 - 85th anniversary of Pluto's discovery by Clyde Tombaugh
March 10, 2015 - Trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) opportunity
April 2015 - Approach Phase 2 begins
April 5, 2015 - 100 days until Pluto close approach (P-100)
April 9, 2015 - Color approach imaging of Pluto system begins
May 15, 2015 - Trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) opportunity
May-June 2015 - New Horizons provides best-ever images of Pluto system
June 2015 - Last full Pluto system "family portraits" (from LORRI) expected; Approach Phase 3 begins; optical navigation (OpNav) campaign 3
June 4, 2015 - Trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) opportunity
June 14, 2015 - Trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) opportunity
June 18, 2015 - Infrared approach imaging of Pluto system begins
June 24, 2015 - Trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) opportunity
June 30, 2015 - Trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) opportunity
July 4, 2015 - Last trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) opportunity
July 12-13, 2015 - Last critical pre-flyby data sent back to Earth (P-2 and P-1 days)
July 14, 2015 - Closest approach to Pluto
July 15, 2015 - First post-flyby data returned (P+1) Departure Phase 1 begins
August 2015 - Departure Phase 2 begins
October 2015 - Departure Phase 3 begins
January 2016 - Pluto encounter ends
October-December 2016 - Pluto encounter data playback ends
November 2017 - Post-Encounter Pluto System Science Conference
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on March 14th, 2015, 10:46 am 

It's official: as of 12-Mar-2015, there's only 1 AU left to go.

Image
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on March 23rd, 2015, 11:32 am 

Latest planetary society Blog entry on New Horizons ...

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/guest-bl ... today.html
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on March 29th, 2015, 6:48 pm 

New Horizons Sampling ‘Space Weather’ on Approach to Pluto (27-Mar-2015)

Synopsis: current solar wind density is approx 1/1000th of Earth's L1
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on April 7th, 2015, 3:18 am 

Wow, 14.6 km/s is pretty darn tootin fast ... no way they could stop and do an orbital injection even if they wanted to. I'm guessing it's probably the fastest manmade object ever.

Image

Image
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on April 9th, 2015, 9:35 am 

For those who are curious, 14.6 km/s is roughly Mach 44.

Math:
14.6 km/s = 9.07 mi/s
9.07 mi/s x 60 sec/min x 60 min/hr = 32,652 mph
32,652 mph / 742 mph at sea level for Mach 1 = Mach 44
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on April 28th, 2015, 10:55 pm 

{snip} "NASA will host a media teleconference at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 29 to discuss recent images returned from the New Horizons spacecraft as it nears its historic July 14 encounter with Pluto."

http://www.nasa.gov/news/media/newsaudio/index.html
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Eclogite on April 29th, 2015, 4:51 pm 

Every space probe making the first visit to another body in the solar system has produced unexpected results, or brings clarity to what was previously uncertain. It is interesting to speculate upon what clarification, or novelty, New Horizons may discover.

Here is my provisional list:

1. Insight into the origin of Pluto's satellites. This abstract addresses the issue:

The Pluto systems is one of extremes. In addition to Pluto, the system contains at least 5 satellites. Charon is the most massive, being more than 1/9 the mass of Pluto. This makes it the most massive satellite, relative to the primary, of any other planet or dwarf-planet in the Solar System. The other satellites are much smaller - having radii that are probably significantly less than 50 km. They are on nearly circular, co-planer orbits. Perhaps one of their most intriguing characteristics is that they are all close to n:1 mean motion resonances (MMRs) with Charon. In particular, Nix, P4, and Hydra are close to the 4:1, 5:1, and 6:1 MMR, respectively. (There is as yet no good orbit for P5). Observations are good enough for Nix and Hydra to conclude that while the are near their respective resonances, they do not appear to actually be librating in them. This has been a challenge for theories of their formation. We will present some new work exploring a heretofore unexplored dynamical mechanism that might help explain the puzzling orbits of the small satellites.

Levison, Harold F.; Walsh, K. Forming the small satellites of Pluto American Astronomical Society, DPS meeting #45, #503.05 2013.


2. Pluto's Atmosphere

As Pluto moves away from the sun on its highly eccentric orbit, having been closer than Neptune for a time, it was expected that any minor atmosphere would "freeze out". Assessments of atmospheric pressure from stellar occultations suggest that atmospheric pressure increased over the last two decades.

I expect data that will complicate, or clarify this observation in surprising ways.


3. Cryovolcanism

Cryovolcanism is strongly indicated for Charon, but not on Pluto. This recent paper in Icarus discusses the conditions necessary for explosive cryovolcanism and (in section 5.6) makes predictions of what New Horizons may observe.


4. Topography

The topography of Pluto is important in three ways. (There are likely more, but three sprang to mind.)
i. It contains a record of the history of the (dwarf) planet
ii. Specifically it could reveal details of the thermal history.
iii. It can help interpret the volatile distribution on the planet, which ties in with point 2, above.

The ice bodies have generally relatively smooth surfaces. Major relief would present a more interesting challenge to our thinking.

Regardless, I do hope that the most prominent feature on the planet is named after Clyde Tombaugh. It would be some compensation for the loss of planetary status for our distant neighbour. This paper contains an interesting discussion on proposed nomenclature for features in the Plutonian system.
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Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on May 1st, 2015, 12:34 pm 

Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Marshall on May 1st, 2015, 2:29 pm 

Really nice article! i like her a lot, as a science journalist as I think you do as well. Clear straight thorough
Marshall
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Darby on June 23rd, 2015, 10:08 am 

Nice article ... what the Sun might look like from Pluto.

It’s Always “Pluto Time” Somewhere

Image

Although I'm guessing the sun looks a little larger than it should in the artist rendition above, Magnitude -19.2 (per the article, not the image) is still a lot brighter than I was expecting.

It's always nice to be surprised, scientifically.
Darby
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Marshall on June 23rd, 2015, 12:34 pm 

Beautiful rendition. How big depends on the angular field of view. Artist might have attached that information "this is a 30 degree field of view landscape, or "this a 15 degree wide view"

You and I could figure out what the artists view angle is. At Earth distance 1AU the angular width of the Sun is 1/2 degree.

So what is Pluto distance? What is anglular size of Sun from that distance? Given the angular size we can see how much larger the picture is, in degrees.
Marshall
 


Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby zetreque on June 23rd, 2015, 3:19 pm 

One of my professors from school has been holding star parties where she gives presentations about Pluto (she is an official NASA ambassador [volunteer]).

Here is a fun little thing I just learned about "Pluto time".

solarsystem.nasa.gov/plutotime/

Pluto orbits on the fringes of our solar system, billions of miles away. Sunlight is much weaker there than it is here on Earth, yet it isn't completely dark. In fact, for just a moment near dawn and dusk each day, the illumination on Earth matches that of noon on Pluto.


Next Month, New Horizons will become the first spacecraft to have a close encounter with Pluto. After the historic flyby on July 14, 2015, we'll combine as many submitted images as we can into a mosaic image of Pluto and its moons.


EDIT: looks like Darby already linked to it.
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Re: Pluto Approach (NASA New Horizons probe)

Postby Watson on July 2nd, 2015, 8:27 pm 

Pluto, the other red planet.
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Re: Mysterious Dark Spots

Postby Faradave on July 2nd, 2015, 11:10 pm 

Image

This sequence of NASA images showing dark spots on Pluto rotating past can be found in an article here.
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