Pluto probe to be launched in 2 weeks

Jan 02, 2006
Pluto's Horizon

NASA's unmanned first flight to Pluto is set for launch on Jan. 17 and if all goes well will be back with a load of scientific goodies in July of 2015.

The $700 million flight, dubbed New Horizons, will be not only the first flight to Pluto but NASA's longest mission ever planned in its quest to reach the farthest planet from the sun with the fastest spacecraft ever.

Thanks to that distance and Pluto's tiny size, even the Hubble Space Telescope has managed only the crudest images of the planet's mottled surface, the Baltimore Sun said.

It's mostly rock, water, nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane, all frozen at minus 387 degrees Fahrenheit.

The mission's top scientist, Alan Stern, 48, of Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., described Pluto as "a scientific wonderland for atmospheric scientists."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: SpaceX launches supplies to space station

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Space science stories to watch in 2014

Jan 02, 2014

There's an old Chinese proverb that says, "May you live in interesting times," and 2013 certainly fit the bill in the world of spaceflight and space science. The past year saw spacecraft depart for Mars, ...

Recommended for you

SpaceX launches supplies to space station (Update)

9 hours ago

The SpaceX company returned to orbit Friday, launching fresh supplies to the International Space Station after more than a month's delay and setting the stage for urgent spacewalking repairs.

Quest for extraterrestrial life not over, experts say

9 hours ago

The discovery of an Earth-sized planet in the "habitable" zone of a distant star, though exciting, is still a long way from pointing to the existence of extraterrestrial life, experts said Friday. ...

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

10 hours ago

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

12 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

12 hours ago

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

14 hours ago

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...