Pluto close-up: Spacecraft makes flyby of icy, mystery world after journey of 9 years


spaminator
#1
Pluto close-up: Spacecraft makes flyby of icy, mystery world after journey of 9 years
Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
First posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 08:32 AM EDT | Updated: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 01:47 AM EDT
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's New Horizons spacecraft got humanity's first up-close look at Pluto on Tuesday, sending word of its triumph across 3 billion miles to scientists waiting breathlessly back home.
Confirmation of mission success came 13 hours after the actual flyby and, after a day of both jubilation and tension, allowed the New Horizons team to finally celebrate in full force.
"This is a tremendous moment in human history," John Grunsfeld, NASA's science mission chief, said at a news conference.
Principal scientist Alan Stern asked the entire New Horizons team in the audience to stand: "We did it! Take a bow!"
The unprecedented encounter was the last stop on NASA's grand tour of our solar-system's planets over the past half-century. The journey began 9 1/2 years ago, back when Pluto was still considered a full-fledged planet.
Tuesday morning, a cheering, flag-waving celebration swept over the mission operations centre in Maryland at the time of closest approach. But until New Horizons phoned home Tuesday night, there was no guarantee the spacecraft had buzzed the small, icy, faraway -- but no longer unknown -- world.
NASA said the spacecraft -- the size of a baby grand piano -- swept to within 7,700 miles of Pluto at 31,000 mph. It was programmed to then go past the dwarf planet and begin studying its far side.
To commemorate the moment of closest approach, scientists released the best picture yet of Pluto, taken on the eve of the flyby.
Even better images will start "raining" down on Earth beginning Wednesday, promised principal scientist Alan Stern. But he had cautioned everyone to "stay tuned" until New Horizons contacted home.
It takes 4 1/2 hours for signals to travel one-way between New Horizons and Earth. The message went out late in the afternoon during a brief break in the spacecraft's data-gathering frenzy. The New Horizons team kept up a confirmation countdown, noting via Twitter when the signal should have passed the halfway point, then Jupiter's orbit.
The uncertainty added to the drama. "This is true exploration," cautioned Stern, a Southwest Research Institute planetary scientist.
Among the possible dangers: cosmic debris that could destroy the mission. But with the chances of a problem considered extremely low, scientists and hundreds of others assembled at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory erupted in jubilation when the moment of closest approach occurred at 7:49 a.m. EDT. The lab is the spacecraft's developer and manager.
The scene repeated itself a little before 9 p.m. EDT.
This time, the flight control room was packed compared with earlier, when it was empty because New Horizons was out of touch and operating on autopilot.
"We have a healthy spacecraft," announced mission operations director Alice Bowman. She was drowned out by cheers and applause; Stern ran over to give her a hug.
Later, Grunsfeld told reporters, "The spacecraft is full of images. We can't wait. We've opened up a new realm of the solar system."
Added NASA Administrator Charles Bolden: "What a phenomenal day."
Joining in the daylong hoopla were the two children of the American astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930, Clyde Tombaugh. (Some of his ashes are aboard the spacecraft.) Other celestial-minded VIPs included James Christy, discoverer of Pluto's big moon Charon, and Sylvia Kuiper des Tombe, daughter of Dutch-American Gerard Kuiper for whom the mysterious zone surrounding Pluto is named. Some Pluto Children -- born Jan. 19, 2006, the very day New Horizons departed Earth -- also were in the audience.
Throughout the day -- coincidentally the 50th anniversary of the first close-up pictures of Mars from Mariner 4 -- the White House and Congress offered congratulations, and physicist Stephen Hawking was among the scientists weighing in. President Barack Obama sent his best Tuesday night with a tweet: "Pluto just had its first visitor!"
"Hey, people of the world! Are you paying attention?" planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, part of the New Horizons' imaging team, said on Twitter. "We have reached Pluto. We are exploring the hinterlands of the solar system. Rejoice!"
The U.S. is now the only nation to visit every planet in the solar system. Pluto was No. 9 in the lineup when New Horizons left Cape Canaveral, Florida, but was demoted seven months later to dwarf status.
Scientists in charge of the $720 million mission hope the new observations will restore Pluto's honour.
Stern and other so-called plutophiles posed for the cameras giving nine-fingers-up "Pluto Salute." And in a nod to that other Pluto, a team member carried a yellow stuffed dog on her shoulder Tuesday night.
The picture of Pluto taken Monday showed a frozen, pockmarked world, peach-colored with a heart-shaped bright spot and darker areas around the equator. It drew oohs and aahs.
"To see Pluto be revealed just before our eyes, it's just fantastic," said Bowman.
The Hubble Space Telescope had offered up the best pre-New Horizons pictures of Pluto, but they were essentially pixelated blobs of light.
Flight controllers held off on having New Horizons send back flyby photos until well after the manoeuvr was complete; they wanted the seven science instruments to take full advantage of the encounter. After turning toward Earth to send down a snippet of engineering data acknowledging everything was fine, the spacecraft was going to get right back to science work.
New Horizons is also expected to beam back photos of Pluto's big moon, Charon, and observe its four little moons. It will take until late 2016 for all the data to reach Earth.
New Horizons already has confirmed that Pluto is, indeed, the King of the Kuiper Belt. New measurements it made show that Pluto is 1,473 miles in diameter, or about 50 miles bigger than estimated.
That's still puny by solar-system standards. Pluto is just two-thirds the size of Earth's moon. But it is big enough to be the largest object in the Kuiper Belt, a zone rife with comets and tens of thousands of other small bodies.
Stern and his colleagues wasted no time pressing the U.S. Postal Service for a new stamp of Pluto.
The last one, issued in 1991, consisted of an artist's rendering of the faraway world and the words: "Pluto Not Yet Explored." The words "not yet" were crossed out in a poster held high Tuesday for the cameras.

Pluto close-up: Spacecraft makes flyby of icy, mystery world after journey of 9
 
Tecumsehsbones
+3
#2  Top Rated Post
That means the U.S. is now the country that has been the first explorer of all eight non-terrestrial planets.

Yay us.
 
Blackleaf
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

That means the U.S. is now the country that has been the first explorer of all eight non-terrestrial planets.

Yay us.


It's just a shame for you that Pluto isn't one of the eight non-terrestrial planets.

As for the eight non-terrestrial planets, it was a actually Soviet probe which first visited another planet.

The first robotic space probe mission to Venus, and the first to any planet, began on 12 February 1961, with the launch of the Venera 1 probe. The first craft of the otherwise highly successful Soviet Venera program, Venera 1 was launched on a direct impact trajectory, but contact was lost seven days into the mission, when the probe was about 2 million km from Earth.

Venera 3 crash-landed on the surface of Venus on 1st March 1966. It was the first man-made object to enter the atmosphere and strike the surface of another planet. Its communication system failed before it was able to return any planetary data.On 18 October 1967, Venera 4 successfully entered the atmosphere and deployed science experiments. Venera 4 showed the surface temperature was even hotter than Mariner 2 had measured, at almost 500 įC, and the atmosphere was 90 to 95% carbon dioxide.


Location of Soviet Venus landers



Surface of Venus imaged by Venera 9 (top) and Venera 10 (bottom)


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus#Atmospheric_entry
Last edited by Blackleaf; Jul 15th, 2015 at 07:11 AM..
 
Tecumsehsbones
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

It's just a shame for you that Pluto isn't one of the eight non-terrestrial planets.

It's just a shame for you your space capability is so pathetic that a "Brit" is NASA slang for a complete failure.
 
Blackleaf
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

It's just a shame for you your space capability is so pathetic that a "Brit" is NASA slang for a complete failure.


We've just sent a probe to a comet.
 
Tecumsehsbones
+1
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

We've just sent a probe to a comet.

Hope it works better than the one you sent to Mars.

By "we" you mean the continental Germans, with minor participation by the island Germans and some others.

"The lander is provided by a European consortium headed by the German Aerospace Research Institute (DLR)."

http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Sp...setta_overview
 
spaminator
+1
#7
Five facts about Pluto
Marcia Dunn, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
First posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 12:47 PM EDT | Updated: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 01:28 PM EDT
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Pluto's tiny, icy world is getting major attention for its first visit by a spacecraft, NASA's New Horizons.
Tuesday's flyby -- with the closest approach being the approximate distance between Seattle and Sydney, or New York and Mumbai -- is expected to open up new ground on the last unexplored planetary territory of our solar system.
Here's a rundown on Pluto, a 20th-century discovery about to become the 21st-century darling of astronomers:
DISCOVERY
Pluto is the only planet (OK, now former planet) in our solar system discovered by an American. Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh spotted the dot in 1930. The name Pluto came from a British schoolgirl, Venetia Burney, then 11, based on the mythological god of the underworld.
Tombaugh died at age 90 in 1997, nine years before New Horizons took flight. A bit of his ashes is on board.
Both of Tombaugh's two children, now in their 70s, were at the New Horizons mission operations centre for Tuesday's celebration.
FIVE MOONS
Big moon Charon was discovered in 1978, followed by little moons Nix and Hydra in 2005, Kerberos in 2011 and Styx in 2012. The Hubble Space Telescope revealed all four baby moons. Astronomers stuck to underworld undertones when it came to the names.
New Horizons will hunt for more moons, but at this point, they would have to be pretty elusive. The Pluto empire, complete with six bodies, at least for now, is like its own mini solar system.
FORGET THE SUNGLASSES
Pluto is so far from the sun -- between 2.8 billion and 4.6 billion miles -- that twilight reigns. At high noon on Pluto, it looks as though it would be dawn or dusk on Earth.
It takes 248 years for Pluto to orbit the sun. Thus, it's only made it about one-third of the way around the sun since its discovery in 1930. Every so often, Neptune's orbit exceeds Pluto's, putting Neptune slightly farther out.
FIRST A PLANET, THEN IT'S NOT
Pluto is the only planet to get kicked out of the solar system club.
Just seven months after New Horizons rocketed away from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2006, the International Astronomical Union declassified Pluto as the ninth planet for technical reasons. Instead, it became a dwarf planet.
The decision left the solar system with eight full-fledged planets, with Mercury replacing Pluto as the smallest.
New Horizons scientists, as well as NASA's leaders, are hoping the new pictures will restore Pluto's planet status.
THE TWILIGHT ZONE
Pluto is the biggest object in the icy Kuiper Belt, also known as the third zone after the inner rocky planets and outer gaseous giants.
The Kuiper Belt is full of comets and other small frosty objects. It's named after the late Dutch-American astronomer Gerard Kuiper, who proposed a bevy of small bodies beyond Neptune back in the 1950s. The New Horizons team hopes to go after a smaller Kuiper Belt object following the Pluto flyby, provided a mission extension is approved.


Five facts about Pluto | World | News | Toronto Sun
 
Tecumsehsbones
#8
Heard a planetologist on the radio the other day. He said "The astronomers have decided Pluto isn't a planet. The planetologists laugh at the astronomers."
 
spaminator
#9
If this is Pluto, what does Planet Mickey look like?
NASA spacecraft captured images of Pluto that looked like Disney character
Postmedia Network
First posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 07:22 PM EDT | Updated: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 07:36 PM EDT
Could that be Pluto the dog on Pluto the mini planet?
A bright rocky formation that takes up a big portion of the south side of Pluto in NASA photos sent back to Earth on Tuesday is shaped like, well, something.
Some saw a heart shape. Others could see the Disney character's face. And don't think the Internet didn't notice.
"The best thing about the Pluto image from NASA today is the silhouette of Pluto the dog right on it," tweeted @scottjohnson, with a photoshopped NASA picture featuring Pluto the dog's floppy-eared smiling face on top.
The meme caught on fast Tuesday. Images of Mickey Mouse's sidekick pasted on the side of our solar system's furthest (dwarf) planet quickly made the social media rounds.
The New Horizons spacecraft made mankind's closest approach to Pluto at 7:49 a.m. EDT Tuesday, the culmination of an epic journey from Earth that spanned more than 3 billion miles and 9 1/2 years.
A photo tweeted out by @scottjohnson shows a newly released NASA photo of the planet Pluto and a manipulated photo showing a shape in the planet that looks like the cartoon character Pluto. Handout/Postmedia Network

If this is Pluto, what does Planet Mickey look like? | Weird | News | Toronto Su
 
Blackleaf
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

Hope it works better than the one you sent to Mars.

By "we" you mean the continental Germans, with minor participation by the island Germans and some others.

"The lander is provided by a European consortium headed by the German Aerospace Research Institute (DLR)."

Rosetta overview / Space Science / Our Activities / ESA

The lander is provided by a European consortium headed by the German Aerospace Research Institute (DLR). Other members of the consortium are ESA, CNES and institutes from Austria, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

Rosetta overview / Space Science / Our Activities / ESA

And the lead scientist on the mission, Dr Matt Taylor, is British.

Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

Hope it works better than the one you sent to Mars.


Or better than America's several failed missions to that planet.

Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

Heard a planetologist on the radio the other day. He said "The astronomers have decided Pluto isn't a planet. The planetologists laugh at the astronomers."

That means the U.S. is now the country that has been the first explorer of all eight non-terrestrial planets.

Yay us.




Last edited by Blackleaf; Jul 15th, 2015 at 09:50 AM..
 
Tecumsehsbones
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

The lander is provided by a European consortium headed by the German Aerospace Research Institute (DLR). Other members of the consortium are ESA, CNES and institutes from Austria, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, and the United Kingdom.


That's what I said. The Germans are doing it. The others are just picking up part of the tab and doing some minor tasks, suitable to their countries.

I imagine Briddin is providing the janitors.
 
Blackleaf
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

That's what I said. The Germans are doing it. The others are just picking up part of the tab and doing some minor tasks, suitable to their countries.

Where's your evidence for that?

The European Space Agency (Esa) is such a fan of Britain's growing space industry that it has chosen Britain to LEAD its 2018 ExoMars mission to search for life on the Red Planet. Most of the rover that will trundle across Mars's surface will be British-built.


The European Space Agency (Esa) has chosen Britain to lead the 2018 ExoMars mission


The ExoMars rover being developed in Stevenage, Hertfordshire
 
petros
+1
#13
Nice. I had mechano when I was a kid too.
 
Blackleaf
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

Nice. I had mechano when I was a kid too.


Meccano. Another Great British creation.

By the way, that rover in that picture is being developed at "Space City" - Stevenage, Hertfordshire - and it's being tested on the largest simulated Martian surface outside of the US.

How Rosetta comet mission is putting 'Space City' Stevenage on the map - Telegraph



 
petros
#15
Space City eh? Is that a knock off of Russia's Star City?
 
Blackleaf
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

Space City eh? Is that a knock off of Russia's Star City?


Yeah, but better.
 
petros
#17
How?
 
IdRatherBeSkiing
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

How?

Duh! It's in Britton.
 
EagleSmack
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

We've just sent a probe to a comet.


The EU did... you crashed one into Mars though.
 
Blackleaf
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by EagleSmack View Post

The EU did....


No. The European Space Agency did. Nothing to do with the EU.

Quote:

you crashed one into Mars though.

Nope. The European Space Agency mission control in Darmstadt lost it.

Of course, the British have a long way to go to reach the level of America's series of Mars mission failures. As of 2010, of 38 launch attempts to reach the planet, only 19 have succeeded.
 
Tecumsehsbones
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

No. The European Space Agency did. Nothing to do with the EU.

Nope. The European Space Agency mission control in Darmstadt lost it.

Of course, the British have a long way to go to reach the level of America's series of Mars mission failures. As of 2010, of 38 launch attempts to reach the planet, only 19 have succeeded.

How many of yours have succeeded?

Let me clarify. I'm asking how many Briddish Mars missions have actually succeeded in the real world, not how many "would have" suceeded in the dim reaches of your fantasies.
 
Blackleaf
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

How many of yours have succeeded?

None.
 
IdRatherBeSkiing
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

None.

Failure is the result of innovation not British sit-on-ones-***-ion.
 
petros
#24
Not a good record.
 
Blackleaf
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

Not a good record.


So far, there's only been ONE lander on Mars from Britain - the only country ever to provide a Martian rover other than the USA and USSR. Nobody is too sure what happened to Beagle 2, other than that it definitely landed on the Martian surface. Whatever happened to it the blame most likely lies with Mission Control.
 
Tecumsehsbones
#26
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

So far, there's only been ONE lander on Mars from Britain - the only country ever to provide a Martian rover other than the USA and USSR. Nobody is too sure what happened to Beagle 2, other than that it definitely landed on the Martian surface. Whatever happened to it the blame most likely lies with Mission Control.

So, we have a 50% failure rate and you have a 100% failure rate.

Yep, you sure showed us!
 
IdRatherBeSkiing
#27
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

So, we have a 50% failure rate and you have a 100% failure rate.

Yep, you sure showed us!

100 > 50. Yay Britton!
 
Tecumsehsbones
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by IdRatherBeSkiing View Post

100 > 50. Yay Britton!

True. Just like they're a better soccer country than Germany because 1 > 4.
 
IdRatherBeSkiing
+1
#29
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

True. Just like they're a better soccer country than Germany because 1 > 4.

The key for analyzing Brittish soccer is to count the goals they score in their own net as well.
 
Blackleaf
#30
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

So, we have a 50% failure rate and you have a 100% failure rate.

Yep, you sure showed us!


And, likewise, if it paid off we'd be the only country with a 100% Mars rover success rate.