If you’re into space and rockets and things that go boom (or rooooaaaaar)… I’d highly recommend checking out NASA TV within the next hour.
NASA is launching a probe to study the planet Pluto. It’s the first of it’s kind.
Cloud has cleared.. go for launch at 2:00PM EST
As I said, the “New Horizons” probe is the first probe specifically designed and targeted for Pluto. Once it gets there… about 10 years from now… it will study both Pluto and it’s moon Charon.
The rocket carrying the probe is one of the biggest in the world, and will propel the probe at breakneck speed. By comparison, Apollo 11, which used the huge Saturn V, took over 3 days to reach the Moon. New Horizons will fly by the moons orbit before midnight tonight!
It will then head for a rendezvous with Jupiter, where it will slingshot around the planet and be accelerated further for it’s epic journey to Pluto.
Unfortunately, it will not be able to slowdown enough to actually go into orbit around Pluto, instead, it will get as close as 10,000km. Spitting distance really.. and then continue on into the Kuiper Belt of mysterious objects roaming on the outskirts of our Solar System.
No doubt, at some point New Horizons will catch up to and pass the Voyager I and II spacecrafts… but that will take some time, and by then it will have left our Solar System for good and be sending us data about the amazing Universe beyond.
I’ll post this now so people have some lead time, and update with links later…