24/7 Space News  





. Pluto-Bound New Horizons Spacecraft Gets A Boost From Jupiter

The image shows New Horizons' path through the Jupiter system; the inset shows the location of Jupiter's four largest moons, Io, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto. New Horizons will turn its science instruments toward the moons as well as the giant planet.
by Staff Writers
Laurel MD (SPX) Mar 01, 2007
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft successfully completed a flyby of Jupiter early this morning, using the massive planet's gravity to pick up speed on its 3-billion mile voyage to Pluto and the unexplored Kuiper Belt region beyond. "We're on our way to Pluto," says New Horizons Mission Operations Manager Alice Bowman, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md. "The swingby was a success; the spacecraft is on course and performed just as we expected."

New Horizons came within 1.4 million miles (2.3 million kilometers) of Jupiter at 12:43 a.m. EST, threading an "aim point" that puts it on target to reach the Pluto system in July 2015. During closest approach the spacecraft was out of touch with Earth - busily gathering science data on the giant planet, its moons and atmosphere - but by 11:55 a.m. EST mission operators at APL had established contact with New Horizons through NASA's Deep Space Network and confirmed its health and status.

The fastest spacecraft ever launched, New Horizons is gaining nearly 9,000 miles per hour (14,000 kilometers per hour) from Jupiter's gravity - half the speed of a space shuttle in orbit - accelerating past 52,000 mph (83,600 km/h) away from the Sun. New Horizons has covered approximately 500 million miles (800 million kilometers) since launch in January 2006, and reached Jupiter quicker than the seven previous spacecraft to visit the solar system's largest planet. Today it raced through an aim point just 500 miles (800 kilometers) across - the equivalent of a skeet shooter in Washington hitting a target in Baltimore on the first try.

New Horizons has been running through an intense six-month systems check that will include more than 700 science observations of the Jupiter system by the end of June. More than half of those observations are taking place this week, including scans of Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere, measurements of its magnetic cocoon (called the magnetosphere), surveys of its delicate rings, maps of the composition and topography of the large moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, and a detailed look at volcanic activity on Io. While much of the close-in science data will be sent back to Earth during the coming weeks, the team will download a sampling of images this week to verify New Horizons' performance.

The outbound leg of New Horizons' journey includes the first-ever trip down the long "tail" of Jupiter's magnetosphere, a wide stream of charged particles that extends more than 100 million miles beyond the planet. And telescopes on and above Earth - from amateur astronomers' backyard telescopes, to the giant Keck telescope in Hawaii, to the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-Ray Observatory and others - are turning to Jupiter as New Horizons flies by, ready to provide global context to the close-up data New Horizons gathers.

"We designed the entire Jupiter encounter to be a tough test for the mission team and our spacecraft, and we're passing the test," says New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. "We're not only learning what we can expect from the spacecraft when we visit Pluto in eight years, we're already getting some stunning science results at Jupiter - and there's more to come."

Email This Article

Related Links
NASA New Horizons
Lost Among A Million Outer Planets




Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


hello world
Defining Planets
Moffett Field CA (SPX) Feb 27, 2007
In 2005, Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology and his team discovered a large body in the outer solar system. It was not the first distant object that had been found in the Kuiper Belt -- the region is composed of hundreds of icy objects. But it was the largest known Kuiper Belt object, just beating out Pluto in terms of size, and so their discovery was heralded as "the tenth planet."

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • US Space Agency Looks To The Moon And Beyond
  • Japanese Instant Noodle Pioneer In Final Blastoff
  • Late Noodle King Of Japan To Be Blasted Into Space
  • India Planning New Institute To Train Space Cadets

  • SpaceDev's Starsys Division Awarded Contract For NASA Mars Science Explorer Mission
  • Sensor Being Developed To Check For Life On Mars
  • Where Is Beagle 2
  • First Test Of New Autonomous Capability On Mars Is Promising

  • Russia May Open New Space Launch Site
  • Hyundai To Build First South Korea Launch Pad
  • Construction Of Soyuz Launch Base In French Guiana Begins
  • Satellite Launcher Arianespace Seeks To Boost US Business

  • CSIRO Imagery Shows Outer Great Barrier Reef At Risk From River Plumes
  • ITT Passes Critical Design Review for GOES-R Advanced Baseline Imager
  • Scientists Gear Up For Envisat 2007 Symposium
  • Sandstorm Over The Mediterranean

  • Pluto-Bound New Horizons Spacecraft Gets A Boost From Jupiter
  • Defining Planets
  • Campaigning For Jupiter Broadens The Horizons Of Planetary Science
  • All Calm On Approach To Jupiter For Flyby

  • First X-Ray Detection Of A Colliding-Wind Binary Beyond Milky Way
  • New Observations Show Sun-Like Star In Earliest Stage Of Development
  • Spitzer First to Crack Open Light of Faraway Worlds
  • Peering Into The Pillars Of Creation

  • Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite Passes Critical Design Review
  • Camping On The Moon Will Be One Far Out Experience
  • Out-Of-This-World Ride In NASA's 14th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race
  • Why Are We Fighting For The Moon Again

  • Malaysia Launches World's Smallest Microchip With Radio Chip
  • The Murky Ethics Of Implanted RFID Chips
  • Lockheed Martin Team Qualifies To Bid On First FAA Nextgen Program
  • GPS Upgrade Will Require Complicated Choreography

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement