Home > M. Stars > New Horizons–Pluto & Beyond

New Horizons–Pluto & Beyond

File:Atlas V 551 roars into blue sky.jpg

The math behind the New Horizons space mission is boggling: launched in early 2006, the spacecraft is in transit to the dwarf planet Pluto and its five known natural satellites, two of which were discovered after the mission launch. Pluto orbits more than 48 times as far from the Sun as does the Earth, and when New Horizons sweeps by its destination in 2015, it will have been en route for more than nine years. That’s right, folks: Pluto lies more than 5.7 billion km (3.54 billion mi) from Earth.

And though the distant Plutonian system is NH’s goal, it has already had quite a cruise getting to where it is (at present, about five astronomical units from its destination). The spacecraft has flown by the small asteroid 132524 APL, measuring its chemical composition (the asteroid turns out to be S-type), and Jupiter and its moons (September 2006), sending back some spectacular photos from the encounter.

File:NH Jupiter IR.jpg

But this is the boggling part: after photographing Jupiter and its court, New Horizons began its years-long, deep-space cruise. And after the Pluto flyby, there may be more: NH might be able to study some Kuiper Belt objects. The incentive is great: not many spacecraft have gotten this far carrying a science payload this sophisticated.

And here’s the kicker: New Horizons is the first of NASA’s New Frontier missions, which will also study Jupiter and Venus.



Photo: TopLaunch of the New Horizons space probe, January 19, 2006. WikiCmns; NASA, Public Domain. BottomJupiter detail via LEISA infrared camera, re-mapped to visible colors and contrast-enhanced. Taken by New Horizons probe. WikiCmns; NASA/JPL; Public Domain.


  1. Suesilver
    March 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    what color ,what a depth of iridescence, glimmering into the soul, makes me want to get out my watercolors but no not enough where are my oils!!

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: