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#101 2006-11-28 12:49:43

cIclops
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Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

112806_cpluto_A_lg.jpg
New Horizons, Not Quite to Jupiter, Makes First Pluto Sighting

The Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) took the pictures during an optical navigation test on Sept. 21-24, and stored them on the spacecraft's data recorder until their recent transmission back to Earth. Seen at a distance of about 4.2 billion kilometers (2.6 billion miles) from the spacecraft, Pluto is little more than a faint point of light among a dense field of stars. But the images prove that the spacecraft can find and track long-range targets, a critical capability the team will use to navigate New Horizons toward 2,500-kilometer wide Pluto and, later, one or more 50-kilometer sized Kuiper Belt objects.

Steady as she goes Captain.


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#102 2007-01-05 17:32:30

cIclops
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

New Horizons in 2007 update January 5, 2007

On the way to Jupiter, the New Horizons team undertook a series of virtually flawlessly executed, multi-month spacecraft and instrument payload checkouts, an unexpected small-asteroid flyby, and behind-the-scenes preparations for our Jupiter encounter — which begins this month!

Since I last wrote in this space, at the start of November, New Horizons has moved outward almost another 100 million miles — from roughly 4.1 astronomical units to almost 5 AU from the Sun. Our spacecraft continues to perform well, and tracking plots show we're right on course. Last month, the spacecraft ground team uploaded further updated fault protection and correction software.

In November and December we concentrated on cruise science observations by our in situ instrument suite. In particular, the Solar Wind at Pluto (SWAP) and Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation (PEPSSI) plasma instruments have both been calibrating on and studying the interplanetary medium. At the same time, the Venetia Burney Student Dust Counter (VB-SDC) has been recording micrometeoroid impact data as the spacecraft traverses the asteroid belt to Jupiter.

During this same time, we received two kinds of good news on our communications capability. The first was a successful test of our dual transmitter capability. This means that we can, beginning this spring, increase our data rates by a factor of 1.5 to 2 times what we had planned prior to launch. This will speed the downlink of both engineering and science data during cruise, as well as at all of our flyby targets—from Jupiter to Pluto to Kuiper Belt objects beyond.

Also, as you might recall from my last post, in late November New Horizons flew almost directly behind the Sun as seen from Earth. This is called a "solar conjunction," and it causes interference with radio communications due to the competition between the spacecraft signal and the nearby Sun, which is a radio noise source to ground receivers during these times. (You can think of it as the spacecraft being in the radio glare of the Sun.) Although we conservatively planned on an eight-day communications outage due to the position of New Horizons, we found that our pre-flight radio interference calculations were very much on the safe side. In fact, we received data from New Horizons for much of this "blackout" period. Now that we've calibrated our communications capability through an actual in-flight solar conjunction, we know that future conjunctions, which along our trajectory occur late each year, will be less trouble and shorter than our first one — typically lasting just a handful of days.


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#103 2007-01-11 11:58:14

cIclops
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

Jupiter Encounter Begins - 9 Jan 2007

The New Horizons Jupiter encounter is under way! The spacecraft began collecting data on the Jovian system this week, starting with black-and-white images of the giant planet and an infrared look at the icy moon Callisto on Jan. 8.

These were the first of about 700 observations of Jupiter and its four largest moons planned from now until June. They include detailed scans of Jupiter's turbulent, stormy atmosphere and dynamic magnetic field, a peek into its faint ring system, maps of the composition and topography of the moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, and a look at Io's volcanic activity. Also in the flight plan: the first-ever trip down the long "tail" of Jupiter's magnetic field, which extends tens of millions of miles beyond the planet.

The New Horizons mission operations team at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., works closely with science operations team, based at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colo., and mission scientists to plan, test and eventually send the observation commands to the spacecraft, which runs the sequences from memory in its onboard computers.

Data are stored on the spacecraft's recorders and sent back to Earth through NASA's Deep Space Network antennas. The newest images will be available on the New Horizons Web site next week.

"Our ground team has worked very hard to get to this point," says New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of SwRI. "Now the curtain is rising on the next stage of Jupiter-system exploration. It's exciting!"

Closest approach to Jupiter comes Feb. 28, when the spacecraft zooms within 2.3 million kilometers (1.4 million miles). New Horizons uses Jupiter's gravity to speed toward its ultimate destination, Pluto.

Jupiter approach already and New Horizons is about to accelerate to ridiculous speed smile


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#104 2007-01-11 17:10:52

Palomar
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

Jupiter Encounter Begins - 9 Jan 2007

The New Horizons Jupiter encounter is under way! The spacecraft began collecting data on the Jovian system this week, starting with black-and-white images of the giant planet and an infrared look at the icy moon Callisto on Jan. 8.

These were the first of about 700 observations of Jupiter and its four largest moons planned from now until June. They include detailed scans of Jupiter's turbulent, stormy atmosphere and dynamic magnetic field, a peek into its faint ring system, maps of the composition and topography of the moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, and a look at Io's volcanic activity. Also in the flight plan: the first-ever trip down the long "tail" of Jupiter's magnetic field, which extends tens of millions of miles beyond the planet.

The New Horizons mission operations team at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., works closely with science operations team, based at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colo., and mission scientists to plan, test and eventually send the observation commands to the spacecraft, which runs the sequences from memory in its onboard computers.

Data are stored on the spacecraft's recorders and sent back to Earth through NASA's Deep Space Network antennas. The newest images will be available on the New Horizons Web site next week.

"Our ground team has worked very hard to get to this point," says New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of SwRI. "Now the curtain is rising on the next stage of Jupiter-system exploration. It's exciting!"

Closest approach to Jupiter comes Feb. 28, when the spacecraft zooms within 2.3 million kilometers (1.4 million miles). New Horizons uses Jupiter's gravity to speed toward its ultimate destination, Pluto.

Jupiter approach already and New Horizons is about to accelerate to ridiculous speed smile


Just now saw this information at spaceref.com.  YAY!  big_smile

Can't wait for feedback on the rings.  Io's volcanoes will be in the spotlight too.


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#105 2007-01-18 13:02:01

cIclops
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

011807_JupiterIo.jpg
Jupiter from 81 million kms taken on Jan. 8, 2007 with the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI)

Higher resolution image and caption

Zooming to Pluto, New Horizons Closes in on Jupiter

At the same time, the New Horizons mission team is taking the spacecraft on the ultimate test drive — using the flyby to put the probe's systems and seven science instruments through the paces of a planetary encounter. More than 700 observations of Jupiter and its four largest moons are planned from January through June, including scans of Jupiter's turbulent, stormy atmosphere and dynamic magnetic cocoon (called a magnetosphere); the most detailed survey yet of its gossamer ring system; maps of the composition and topography of the large moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto; and an unprecedented look at volcanic activity on Io.

The flight plan also calls for the first-ever trip down the long "tail" of Jupiter's magnetosphere, a wide stream of charged particles that extends tens of millions of miles beyond the planet, and the first close-up look at the "Little Red Spot," a nascent storm south of Jupiter's famous Great Red Spot.


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#106 2007-01-21 06:02:33

Yang Liwei Rocket
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

Thanks for the news


'first steps are not for cheap, think about it...
did China build a great Wall in a day ?' ( Y L R newmars forum member )

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#107 2007-01-24 13:42:24

Dayton Kitchens
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From: Norphlet, Arkansas
Registered: 2005-12-13
Posts: 183

Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

It is going to hard for me to wait the next 8 & one half years.

I'll be 48 when it reaches Pluto.

And the 2016 Presidential Race will be well under way.

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#108 2007-01-26 12:23:48

cIclops
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

You can celebrate your half century when she reaches the first KBO.


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#109 2007-01-28 09:44:51

cIclops
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

012307_3_sm.jpg
Cylindrical projection map of Jupiter's meteorology made in Jan 2007 (LORRI)

One Year Down, Eight to Go, on the Road to Pluto - 23 Jan 2007

How quickly that year has passed. New Horizons and our ground team accomplished a great deal in that first year of flight, including:

    * A complete checkout of the spacecraft and its redundant subsystems.
    * Three small trajectory correction maneuvers that precisely steered our little craft toward its Pluto aim point, some 2 million kilometers off Jupiter's limb.
    * A complete checkout and initial calibrations of all seven on-board scientific instruments.
    * The design, testing and installation of new guidance and navigation, fault protection/autonomy, and command and data handling software packages that repair bugs found in flight and enable a variety of new capabilities.
    * Tests of target-tracking capabilities during a serendipitous, target of opportunity flyby of the small asteroid 2002 JF56, now officially named "APL" by the International Astronomical Union.
    * Initial planning for the first hibernation phase on the cruise from Jupiter to Pluto.
    * Preparation of more than 700 separate Jupiter science observations scheduled for January-June 2007.
    * The start of Jupiter approach observations on January 6, 2007.


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#110 2007-01-29 23:10:18

Dayton Kitchens
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From: Norphlet, Arkansas
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Posts: 183

Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

You can celebrate your half century when she reaches the first KBO.

Is New Horizons targeted on a specific KBO?

If so, how large is it and how close  will the probe pass by it?

How good are the images we are likely to get?

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#111 2007-01-30 14:50:41

cIclops
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

Is New Horizons targeted on a specific KBO?

If so, how large is it and how close  will the probe pass by it?

How good are the images we are likely to get?

The NH team and others are searching for suitable KBOs right now and probably won't select one until the last moment which is just after Pluto encounter in 2015. NH only has a small delta-v so the target must be chosen carefully. Hopefully it will also be possible to visit a second one. Lots of factors will be considered including how close it can get, geometry etc etc.


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#112 2007-02-27 03:46:19

cIclops
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

Latest update on the Jupiter encounter

Picking up the Pace
February 26, 2007

We're in the thick of it at Jupiter now! Since early on Saturday, February 24, New Horizons has been executing its Jupiter close approach sequence, which contains 15 to 20 observations per day. Recall this is almost 10 times more than what we were doing just a week earlier!

Here on the ground we aren't yet seeing much science data, but the engineering data we're getting shows the encounter is progressing nominally and the various observations are coming off right on schedule.

What's next? Today, we're studying atmospheric composition and structure of both Io and Callisto, mapping the surface compositions of Ganymede and Europa, searching for embedded moonlets in Jupiter's rings, obtaining high-resolution images of the Little Red Spot on Jupiter, imaging Io's volcanic plumes, and obtaining ring images to study the phase-angle behavior of their dust. We're also sending home eight hours of downlink data. All the while, we're studying Jupiter's magnetosphere. By late tomorrow we'll be at closest approach, but there are still twice as many observations tomorrow as we're making today!


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#113 2007-02-27 07:12:28

SpaceNut
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Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,874

Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

Saw this title Grand Theft Pluto and got the gamer inference. lol


New Horizons is going to steal a little energy from Jupiter as it swings by Jupiter on Feb. 28th, it will pick up a few souvenirs along the way – photos, data, and an extra 9000 miles per hour courtesy of the largest planet in our solar system. New Horizons will absorb about 1/1025 of Jupiter's orbital energy. That's like "taking a single drop out of the ocean," says Farquhar.

(1025 is 1 followed by 25 zeros. Coincidentally, there are about 1025 drops in the combined oceans of Earth, so Farquhar's analogy is correct.)

This insignificant loss for Jupiter amounts to a big boost for New Horizons. The piano-sized spacecraft will gain enough energy to exceed 52,000 mph – fast enough to reach New York from Tokyo in less than eight minutes. New Horizons will reach the Pluto system in July 2015 – five years earlier than without the Jupiter boost.

bsf16-23.gif

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#114 2007-02-28 09:15:04

cIclops
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

022807_1.jpg

The Little Red Spot: Closest View Yet

This is a mosaic of three New Horizons images of Jupiter's Little Red Spot, taken with the spacecraft's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera at 17:41 Universal Time on February 26 from a range of 3.5 million kilometers (2.1 million miles). The image scale is 17 kilometers (11 miles) per pixel, and the area covered measures 33,000 kilometers (20,000 miles) from top to bottom, two and one-half times the diameter of Earth.


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#115 2007-02-28 18:04:59

SpaceNut
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

Excellent timing...

Volcano Blows as Space Probe Flies By

By fortuitous timing, a robotic science probe flew by Jupiter on Wednesday as a massive volcano on one of its moons erupted, sending a thick plume of dust into space that served as a celestial welcome mat.

The plume from the volcano known as Tvashtar stretched about 150 miles above the surface of Io, a tortured moon baked and scrambled by the heavy grip of Jupiter's gravity.

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#116 2007-03-02 11:30:12

cIclops
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

030107.jpg
Tvashtar's Plume

This dramatic image of Io was taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on New Horizons at 11:04 Universal Time on February 28, 2007, just about 5 hours after the spacecraft's closest approach to Jupiter. The distance to Io was 2.5 million kilometers (1.5 million miles) and the image is centered at 85 degrees west longitude. At this distance, one LORRI pixel subtends 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) on Io.

This processed image provides the best view yet of the enormous 290-kilometer (180-mile) high plume from the volcano Tvashtar, in the 11 o'clock direction near Io's north pole.


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#117 2007-03-10 06:32:22

Palomar
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From: USA
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

Yep, Tvashtar stole the spotlight.  wink

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2007 … olcano.htm

Now they estimate the Tvashtar plume in the pic is 180 miles tall -- 30 miles higher than previously estimated.  They point out "grand old Prometheus" at 9 o'clock; they were hoping to get a photo of it erupting -- sure enough.  But Tvashtar far "outshines" Prometheus and scientists are absolutely delighted with the image.

They're wondering if the material spewed from Tvashtar becomes sulfurous snow in the venting process (altitude)...

Got lucky on that flyby.  smile

p.s.: cIclops, that is a great image of the Little Red Spot.


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#118 2007-03-14 06:56:08

Palomar
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From: USA
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

From Io:

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=23601

Oh gosh!  The "complicated wispy texture" of Tvashtar's plume is an ongoing mystery.  Can see a bright spark beneath, which is lava.  The shadow of Io's limb slices across the plume.  Mentions illumination by "Jupiter light."  The spew from two other volcanoes is also visible (one just barely) in this newly released photo.

Other info too.

Excellent.   B)


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#119 2007-04-03 07:51:21

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=23814

Oh...that is lovely.  smile  Wow -- Tvashtar instantly grabs your eye.  Can see the red "speck" of lava too.  I'd wondered why Europa has such a night-side compared to Io. 

The night side of Io is illuminated here by light reflected from Jupiter, which is out of the frame to the right.  Europa's night side is completely dark, in contrast to Io, because that side of Europa faces away from Jupiter

Okie-doke.  tongue

The picture was one of a handful of the Jupiter system that New Horizons took primarily for their artistic, rather than scientific value.

It's all good.  big_smile


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#120 2007-05-02 06:21:52

cIclops
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

050107.jpg
Europa rising over Jupiter

PLUTO-BOUND NEW HORIZONS PROVIDES NEW LOOK AT JUPITER SYSTEM  - 1 May 2007

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has provided new data on the Jupiter system ­-- stunning scientists with never-before-seen perspectives of the giant planet’s atmosphere, rings, moons and magnetosphere.

These new views include the closest peek yet at the Earth-sized “Little Red Spot” storm churning materials through Jupiter’s cloud tops; detailed images of small satellites herding dust and boulders through Jupiter’s faint rings; and of volcanic eruptions and circular grooves on the planet’s largest moons.
         
New Horizons came to within 1.4 million miles of Jupiter on Feb. 28, using the planet’s gravity to trim three years off its travel time to Pluto. For several weeks before and after this closest approach, the piano-sized robotic probe trained its seven cameras and sensors on Jupiter and its four largest moons, storing data from nearly 700 observations on its digital recorders and gradually sending that information back to Earth. About 70 percent of the expected 34 gigabits of data has come back so far, radioed to NASA’s largest antennas over more than 600 million miles. This activity confirmed the successful testing of the instruments and operating software the spacecraft will use at Pluto.

“Aside from setting up our 2015 arrival at Pluto, the Jupiter flyby was a stress test of our spacecraft and team, and both passed with very high marks,” says New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, NASA Headquarters, Washington. “We’ll be analyzing this data for months to come; we have collected spectacular scientific products as well as evocative images.”

Images included the first close-up scans of the Little Red Spot, Jupiter’s second-largest storm, which formed when three smaller storms merged over the past decade. The storm, about half the size of Jupiter’s larger Great Red Spot and about 70 percent of Earth’s diameter, began turning red about a year before New Horizons flew past it. Scientists will search for clues about how these systems form and why they change colors in their close observations of materials spinning within and around the nascent storm.

“This is our best look ever of a storm like this in its infancy,” says Hal Weaver, New Horizons project scientist from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Laurel, Md., which built and operates the New Horizons spacecraft. “Combined with data from telescopes on and around Earth taken at the same time New Horizons sped past Jupiter, we’re getting an incredible look at the dynamics of weather on giant planets.”

Under a range of lighting and viewing angles, New Horizons also grabbed the clearest images ever of the tenuous Jovian ring system. In them, scientists spotted a series of arcs and clumps of dust, unexpected, they note, and indicative of a recent impact into the ring by a small object. Movies made from New Horizons images also provide an unprecedented look at ring dynamics, with the tiny inner moons Metis and Adrastea appearing to shepherd the materials around the rings.

“We’re starting to see that rings can evolve rapidly, with changes detectable over weeks and months,” says Jeff Moore, New Horizons Jupiter Encounter Science Team lead from NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. “We’ve seen similar phenomena in the rings of Saturn.”

Of Jupiter’s four largest moons, the team focused much attention on volcanic Io, the most geologically active body in the solar system. New Horizons’ cameras captured pockets of bright, glowing lava scattered across the surface; dozens of small, glowing spots of gas; and several fortuitous views of a sunlit umbrella-shaped dust plume rising 200 miles into space from the volcano Tvashtar, the best images yet of a giant eruption from the tortured volcanic moon.

The timing and location of the spacecraft’s trajectory also allowed it to spy many of the mysterious, circular troughs carved onto the icy moon Europa. Data on the size, depth and distribution of these troughs, discovered by the Jupiter-orbiting Galileo mission, will help scientists determine the thickness of the ice shell that covers Europa’s global ocean.

Already the fastest spacecraft ever launched, New Horizons reached Jupiter just 13 months after lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., in January 2006. The flyby added 9,000 miles per hour, pushing New Horizons past 50,000 miles per hour and setting up a flight by Pluto in July 2015.

The number of observations at Jupiter was twice that of those planned at Pluto. New Horizons made most of these observations during the spacecraft's closest approach to the planet, which was guided by more than 40,000 separate commands in the onboard computer.

“We can run simulations and take test images of stars, and learn that things would probably work fine at Pluto,” says John Spencer, deputy lead of the New Horizons Jupiter Encounter Science Team, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo. “But having a planet to look at and lots of data to dig into tells us that the spacecraft and team can do all these amazing things. We might not have explored the full capabilities of the spacecraft if we didn’t have this real planetary flyby to push the system and get our imaginations going.”

More data are to come, as New Horizons completes its unprecedented flight down Jupiter’s long magnetotail, analyzing the intensities of sun-charged particles that flow hundreds of millions of miles beyond the giant planet.


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#121 2007-05-27 07:26:10

cIclops
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

050107_02.jpg
Tvashtar volcano erupting on Io - imaged 1 Mar 2007

Tvashtar in Motion

This five-frame sequence of New Horizons images captures the giant plume from Io's Tvashtar volcano. Snapped by the probe’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) as the spacecraft flew past Jupiter earlier this year, this first-ever “movie” of an Io plume clearly shows motion in the cloud of volcanic debris, which extends 330 kilometers (200 miles) above the moon’s surface. Only the upper part of the plume is visible from this vantage point – the plume’s source is 130 kilometers (80 miles) below the edge of Io's disk, on the far side of the moon.

Now isn't that so cool ....


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#122 2007-05-27 09:24:21

noosfractal
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

Now isn't that so cool ....

Really nice detail from that distance and speed - but then I guess NH is designed for that smile


Fan of Red Oasis

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#123 2007-11-12 12:55:34

cIclops
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Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

Results from the Jupiter flyby - 9 Oct 2007 (see slides and press briefing audio)

From January through June, New Horizons’ seven science instruments made more than 700 separate observations of the Jovian system – twice the activity planned at Pluto – with most of them coming in the eight days around closest approach to Jupiter. “We carefully selected observations that complemented previous missions, so that we could focus on outstanding scientific issues that needed further investigation,” says New Horizons Jupiter Science Team Leader Jeff Moore, of NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. “The Jupiter system is constantly changing and New Horizons was in the right place at the right time to see some exciting developments.”

Jovian weather was high on the list, as New Horizons’ visible light, infrared and ultraviolet remote-sensing instruments probed Jupiter’s atmosphere for data on cloud structure and composition. They saw clouds form from ammonia welling up from the lower atmosphere and heat-induced lightning strikes in the polar regions – the first polar lightning ever observed beyond Earth, demonstrating that heat moves through water clouds at virtually all latitudes across Jupiter. They made the most detailed size and speed measurements yet of “waves” that run the width of planet and indicate violent storm activity below. Additionally, New Horizons snapped the first close-up images of the Little Red Spot, a nascent storm about half the size of Jupiter’s larger Great Red Spot and about 70 percent of Earth’s diameter, gathering new information on storm dynamics.

Under a range of lightning and viewing angles, New Horizons also captured the clearest images ever of the tenuous Jovian ring system. In them, scientists spotted clumps of debris that may indicate a recent impact inside the rings, or some more exotic phenomenon; movies made from New Horizons images also offer an unprecedented look at ring dynamics, with the tiny inner moons Metis and Adrastea shepherding the materials around the rings. A search for smaller moons inside the rings – and possible new sources of the dusty material – found no bodies wider than a kilometer.

The mission’s investigations of Jupiter’s four largest moons focused on Io, the closest to Jupiter and whose active volcanoes blast tons of material into the Jovian magnetosphere (and beyond). New Horizons spied 11 different volcanic plumes of varying size, three of which were seen for the first time and one – a spectacular 200-mile-high eruption rising above the volcano Tvashtar – that offered an unprecedented opportunity to trace the structure and motion of the plume as it condensed at high altitude and fell back to the moon’s surface. In addition, New Horizons spotted the infrared glow from at least 36 Io volcanoes, and measured lava temperatures up to 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit, similar to many terrestrial volcanoes.

New Horizons’ global map of Io’s surface backs the moon’s status as the solar system’s most active body, showing more than 20 geological changes since the Galileo Jupiter orbiter provided the last close-up look in 2001. The remote imagers also kept watch on Io in the darkness of Jupiter’s shadow, noting mysterious glowing gas clouds above dozens of volcanoes. Scientists suspect that this gas helps to resupply Io’s atmosphere.

New Horizons' flight down Jupiter's magnetotail gave it an unprecedented look at the vast region dominated by the planet's strong magnetic field. Looking specifically at the fluxes of charged particles that flow hundreds of millions of miles beyond the giant planet, the New Horizons particle detectors saw evidence that tons of material from Io’s volcanoes move down the tail in large, dense, slow-moving blobs. By analyzing the observed variations in particle fluxes over a wide range of energies and scales, New Horizons scientists are exploring how the volcanic gases from Io are ionized, trapped and energized by Jupiter's magnetic field, then ultimately ejected from the system.


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#124 2007-11-15 19:12:11

Dayton Kitchens
Member
From: Norphlet, Arkansas
Registered: 2005-12-13
Posts: 183

Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

Seven years and seven months left.

Time marches on.

By then, I'll be a head coach and God willing coaching a championship team.

My daughter will be writing reports in high school about it.

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#125 2008-01-22 09:26:43

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt

011708_2_lg.jpg
Montage of Jupiter and Io showing its Tvashtar polar plume

From Alan Stern, Mission PI and NASA Science Administrator - 17 Jan 2008:

Just like the parent of a kid growing up from an infant to a toddler, my experience with New Horizons in flight – since our launch two years ago this week – is that the first two years have passed amazingly quickly and yet amazingly slowly, all at the same time. I guess that given some of the spacecraft hiccups of the past several months, one could also analogize that New Horizons has reached the “Terrible Two” stage and is into saying “no” a little more these days than in its first year.

Honestly, though, it’s been a great second year that included a phenomenally successful Jupiter encounter, a course correction, our first annual checkout, and science team work to begin in earnest the planning for the encounter at Pluto, still seven years hence. (Interestingly, this month also commemorates the seventh anniversary of the first New Horizons team meetings to write our proposal to NASA, so we are now at the halfway point from project inception to encounter!)
   
As you can see by visiting our Where Is New Horizons, we are now nearing a distance of 9 Astronomical Units from the Sun and speeding onward. This time next year, we’ll already be almost halfway between 12 and 13 AU!

Our spacecraft will be in quiet cruise or hibernation for most of 2008. Short wakeups will occur in May and December to re-point our high-gain antenna toward Earth and conduct other maintenance activities. Also on our flight plan is our second active checkout, which will fill the period from September through early November with many kinds of spacecraft and instrument activities. But otherwise we plan for things to be very quiet on orbit this year. And we have already determined from tracking data that our trajectory correction maneuver in late September was so accurate that no clean-up burn will be required in 2008 (nor will such be very likely in 2009, either).

The major work of New Horizons in 2008 will be on the ground. One activity will be the creation, testing and uploading of new spacecraft software with various bug fixes and performance improvements that derived from our Jupiter encounter and second-year flight experiences. Another large activity will be designing and building the entire Pluto near-encounter sequence, which we will also prepare for test on our spacecraft simulator, “NHOPS,” next year. In addition to these two activities and routine flight operations in cruise and annual checkout, we also expect to commission NHOPS-2, our newly minted backup spacecraft simulator.

Well, that catches you up with where New Horizons is and what the spacecraft and project team have been doing. I’ll be back with more news in March. In the meantime, keep on exploring, just like we do!

A series of professional Podcasts about the mission - comments from many of the team along with some superb animations and images


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