Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




OUTER PLANETS
Public Invited to Find Destination for New Horizons
by Staff Writers
Laurel MD (SPX) Jun 22, 2011


After visiting Pluto, the spacecraft will have enough fuel remaining to change its course to fly toward at least one and possibly two Kuiper Belt objects in the distant outer solar system - an object the IceHunters website is designed to find. The expected date of the KBO flyby will be between 2016 and 2020, depending on the object chosen and its distance from Pluto.

The world is invited to help discover a potential new, icy follow-on destination for NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, using the IceHunters.org website. New Horizons is currently en route to make the first flyby of the Pluto system, and is then capable of making additional explorations of bodies still farther out in the Sun's Kuiper Belt.

Through this citizen science project, the public can help scientists search through specially-obtained deep telescopic images for currently unknown objects in the Kuiper Belt. Along the way, they will also discover variable stars and asteroids. IceHunters is a Zooniverse citizen science project.

"The New Horizons project is breaking new ground in many ways," says project Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute.

"We're flying by a new kind of planet," says Stern, "and we'll be making the most distant encounters with planetary bodies in the history of space exploration, and now we're employing citizen science to help find our potential extended mission flyby targets, perhaps a billion kilometers farther than even distant Pluto and its moons. We're very excited to be working with Zooniverse and breaking this new kind of ground. We hope the public will be excited to join in with us and with Zooniverse to make a little history of their own by discovering our next flyby target after Pluto."

Somewhere, on the outer edges of the solar system an icy body lurks undiscovered, orbiting on a path that will just happen to carry it toward a potential rendezvous with the New Horizons spacecraft. This mission is on course for a 2015 fly by of Pluto. This encounter begins New Horizons exploration of the Kuiper Belt.

After visiting Pluto, the spacecraft will have enough fuel remaining to change its course to fly toward at least one and possibly two Kuiper Belt objects in the distant outer solar system - an object the IceHunters website is designed to find. The expected date of the KBO flyby will be between 2016 and 2020, depending on the object chosen and its distance from Pluto.

The Kuiper Belt is a region of the outer solar system, extending past Neptune, which contains small planets ("dwarf planets"); icy objects of a variety of different sizes up to thousands of kilometers across.

The first KBO other than Pluto was only discovered in 1992, and the KBO population is still not well mapped. IceHunters will do its part to study one small slice of the Kuiper Belt as it looks for an object along New Horizon's trajectory after its Pluto flyby.

If that object can be found , it will become the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft from Earth.

Using some of the largest telescopes in the world, scientists have imaged that region, producing millions of pictures for that could contain images of the rare objects that are orbiting toward just the right location, along with many other small worlds on different trajectories. Users of Ice Hunter's will be charged with marking these moving targets for follow-up.

The images contained in IceHunters.org are "difference" images, created by subtracting observations taken at two different times. By subtracting the two images, scientists can mostly (but not entirely) remove the light from constant sources like stars and galaxies.

Left behind are the things that move or vary in brightness: Kuiper Belt objects, asteroids, and variable stars. Since the stars never subtract off perfectly, the images appear messy, and computers can't be trained to find objects as effectively as a people can.

The search team will use the millions of mouse clicks made by IceHunters users to identify objects moving on orbits that New Horizons might reach.

"When you're looking for something special in masses of messy, real-world data, sometimes there's no substitute for the human eye, and Zooniverse IceHunters will put thousands of eyes to work on this important job," said John Spencer of Southwest Research Institute, a member of the New Horizons science team who is coordinating the search effort.

.


Related Links
IceHunters
The million outer planets of a star called Sol






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





OUTER PLANETS
The PI's Perspective: Pinch Me!
Baltimore MD (SPX) Apr 14, 2011
New Horizons is healthy and on course. In mid-March, our spacecraft passed the orbit of Uranus, more than 19 astronomical units (AU) from the sun. In fact, we're now almost 20 times as far from the sun as the Earth is. If you were to make a scale-model solar system in your neighborhood, with the sun at the location of your home, and the Earth at your neighbor's house, then New Horizons is ... read more


OUTER PLANETS
LRO Showing Us the Moon as Never Before

CMU and Astrobotic Technology Complete Structural Assembly of Lunar Lander

Blood Red Moon Predicted

NASA Releases New Lunar Eclipse Video

OUTER PLANETS
Radar for Mars Gets Flight Tests at NASA Dryden

19-Mile Mark See Opportunity For A Solar Panel Clean Up

Phobos slips past Jupiter

Countering Contamination for Mars Spacesuits

OUTER PLANETS
ESA reentry vehicle on track for flight in 2013

Space shuttle commander Kelly to retire from NASA

Looking for new vistas of space exploration

One-Hundred-Year Starship Study - Part 2

OUTER PLANETS
China to launch new communication satellite

China's second moon orbiter Chang'e-2 goes to outer space

Building harmonious outer space to achieve inclusive development

China's Fengyun-3B satellite goes into official operation

OUTER PLANETS
Progress M-11M space freighter launched into orbit

The end for ATV Johannes Kepler

Johannes Kepler has left the ISS

ESA chief hits at 'anarchy' over space station planning

OUTER PLANETS
Arianespace to launch Astra 5B satellite

Arianespace receives the next Ariane 5 for launch in 2011

SpaceX Secures Launch Contract In Major Asian Market

SES-3 Satellite Arrives At Baikonour Launch Base

OUTER PLANETS
A golden age of exoplanet discovery

CoRoT's new detections highlight diversity of exoplanets

Rage Against the Dying of the Light

Second Rocky World Makes Kepler-10 a Multi-Planet System

OUTER PLANETS
Express AM8, AT1 and AT2 programmes are now in full effect

NASA's Pleiades Supercomputer Ranks Among World's Fastest

Partners OK MEADS flight tests

Android phones to pit vampires against slayers




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights 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 Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement