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: Computer model shows moon's core surrounded by liquid and it's caused by Earth's gravity

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

Image: NASA's SDO observes a lunar transit

2 hours ago

On July 26, 2014, from 10:57 a.m. to 11:42 a.m. EDT, the moon crossed between NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and the sun, a phenomenon called a lunar transit.

Image: Tethys in sunlight

2 hours ago

Tethys, like many moons in the solar system, keeps one face pointed towards the planet around which it orbits. Tethys' anti-Saturn face is seen here, fully illuminated, basking in sunlight. On the right side ...

User comments : 0