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Old 05-22-2009   #101
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Re: The Ongoing Saga of the New Horizons Pluto Probe

5 YEARS !!! That's a long time to wait for to have something to do. Oh well.
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Old 07-08-2009   #102
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It's awake!

Here's the latest from Alan Stern

Quote:
July 8, 2009
Rise and Shine: New Horizons Wakes for Annual Checkout

New Horizons is up from the longest nap of its cruise to Pluto, as operators “woke” the spacecraft from hibernation yesterday for its annual series of checkouts and tests.

The actual wake-up call went in months ago; the commands for New Horizons to power up and reawaken its hibernating systems were radioed to its computer before it entered hibernation on Dec. 16, 2008. During hibernation, as the spacecraft traveled almost 200 million miles toward its goal — the Pluto system — New Horizons sent back weekly status reports as well as biweekly engineering telemetry reports.

Then at 6:30 a.m. EDT on July 7, operators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (APL) in Laurel, Md., contacted the craft through NASA’s Deep Space Network and began downloading data on its health.

“Everything is working normally,” says Alice Bowman, New Horizons mission operations manager at APL. “You’re a little anxious because you have to turn on a lot of computer processors – they’d been off for 202 days – and you always take a chance when you turn something off in space. But the systems look good.”
STORY CONTINUES
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Old 09-08-2009   #103
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1,340 million miles

NH might be "asleep" again but we here on earth know exactly where it is. That figure places the New Horizons probe exactly halfway between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus (and I hope by now that you all know that "Uranus" is pronounced "YOUR-uh-nus", not "your-AY-nus"). Anyway, here's the latest on the NH mission.
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Old 11-23-2009   #104
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Awake... then asleep again

A little late, I know but here's the latest news on what's going on "up there"...

Quote:
November 12, 2009

New Horizons Roused for Long-Distance Checkup

Call it a burst of activity between naps: the New Horizons team woke its Pluto-bound spacecraft from hibernation this week for some onboard housekeeping.

On pre-programmed commands from controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. – transmitted to the spacecraft in August through NASA’s Deep Space Network of antenna stations – New Horizons came out of hibernation on Nov. 9. The spacecraft had been “sleeping” since Aug. 27, when it completed its third annual instrument and system checkout.

"Although we hibernate about 90 percent of the time from August through May each year, between checkouts we wake the spacecraft up in November and January to re-point its antenna toward Earth and to conduct some maintenance activities,” says Mission Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute. “So far, this wake up is going smoothly.”

Aside from turning the spacecraft’s antenna, operators will also upload some tweaks to New Horizons’ fault-protection software. The team puts the spacecraft back into hibernation on Nov. 20.

Distance milestone: Late tonight, New Horizons will reach 15 astronomical units from the Sun – the equivalent of 15 times the distance from Earth to the Sun. Cruising between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus, the spacecraft is speeding toward Pluto at 37,110 miles (nearly 60,000 kilometers) per hour.
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Old 11-23-2009   #105
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Re: The Ongoing Saga of the New Horizons Pluto Probe

Is it slowing down?
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Old 11-24-2009   #106
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Re: The Ongoing Saga of the New Horizons Pluto Probe

^^Yes, a little bit. Remember, nearly the entire mass of the Solar System is behind the probe and all that gravity is dragging on it. However, it won't be slowed enough to ever return - even in a long-period comet like orbit because the launch sequence left the probe with a speed far in excess of solar escape velocity. Also, the Jupiter Encounter added an additional 9000 mph as a result of the "slingshot" course the NH had as it passed Jupiter.
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Old 02-25-2010   #107
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From here on out, its "Pluto approach"

Once again, I can only C&P words written by someone wiser than I (or at least closer to the project than I)



Quote:
February 25, 2010
The Approach Begins

Another milestone passed! Today NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is 15.96 astronomical units (about 2.39 billion kilometers, or 1.48 billion miles) from the Sun – putting it halfway between Earth’s location on launch day in January 2006, and Pluto’s place during New Horizons’ encounter with the planet in July 2015.

“From here on out, we’re on approach to an encounter with the Pluto system,” says New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, from the Southwest Research Institute. “The second half of the journey begins.”

This is rare territory; New Horizons is just the fifth probe, after Pioneers 10 - 11 and Voyagers 1 – 2, to traverse interplanetary space so far from the Sun. And it’s the first to travel so far to reach a new planet for exploration.

Humming along at more than 16 kilometers per second – more than 36,600 miles per hour - the spacecraft will next cross a planetary boundary in March 2011, when it passes the orbit of Uranus.
EDIT:
Oops! I forgot to mention that the March 2 episode of NOVA will discuss the NH probe.
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Old 02-27-2010   #108
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Re: The Ongoing Saga of the New Horizons Pluto Probe

"Pluto System" .... I just wish they would go back to calling it a P L A N E T. Maybe by the time it gets there in 5 years they will be calling it something else. Once it does get there, then what?
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Old 05-24-2010   #109
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Re: The Ongoing Saga of the New Horizons Pluto Probe

Alan Stern has posted another update on the NH mission. Actually, there's not much to say because the probe is in hibernation for most of the voyage - except for the short periods that mission control wakes it up to check on things.



Remember that 1 AU (astronomical unit) is 93 million miles or 150 million km
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Old 05-24-2010   #110
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Re: The Ongoing Saga of the New Horizons Pluto Probe

That picture can't be correct, the Earth and Jupiter are 4.2 AU apart...must be a misprint or something.

Anyway, as a funny anecdote, I took an astronomy class this semester, and my professor is good friends with a guy who works on the New Horizons program. He said that among the most vocal opponents of the new system for determining if a body is a planet were the New Horizons scientists - they didn't want to be sending their pride and joy to a mere "dwarf planet." That gave me a chuckle.
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Old 07-02-2010   #111
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"A tap on the gas pedal"

The NH Mission Control folks sent up a command for a small course correction which, as the latest news release states, was the equivalent of a tap on the gas pedal that sped the probe up by about one MPH. This is only the fourth course correction performed in almost 1,500 million miles of travelling so the NH is doing pretty damn good.

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Old 10-29-2010   #112
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Interesting byline to the probe itself

I couldn't say it any better than Alan Stern so I'll just say check it out here.

The picture below will make a lot more sense after you read the article...


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Old 01-21-2011   #113
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Five years out; four more to go

I almost posted something on Jan 19 which was actually the 5th anniversary of the NH's launch but I knew that sooner or later there would be an official news release on the subject. Interesting little trivia fact: The NH will cross the orbit of Uranus on the same day that the Mercury MESSENGER probe will settle in final orbit about the planet closest to the sun - March 18 of this year. It is also interesting to consider that the MESSENGER probe has traveled almost as many miles flying between Earth and Mercury as the NH has on its way to Pluto because MESSENGER has made so many trips around the sun in its spiraling path towards its destination.
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Old 04-30-2012   #114
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Re: The Ongoing Saga of the New Horizons Pluto Probe

Its really too bad they can't make DVD players or computers this good.

Quote:
Durable NASA Rover Beginning Ninth Year of Mars Work
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Apr 30, 2012


Eight years after landing on Mars for what was planned as a three-month mission, NASA's enduring Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is working on what essentially became a new mission five months ago.

Opportunity reached a multi-year driving destination, Endeavour Crater, in August 2011. At Endeavour's rim, it has gained access to geological deposits from an earlier period of Martian history than anything it examined during its first seven years. It also has begun an investigation of the planet's deep interior that takes advantage of staying in one place for the Martian winter.

Opportunity landed in Eagle Crater on Mars on Jan. 25, 2004, Universal Time and EST (Jan. 24, PST), three weeks after its rover twin, Spirit, landed halfway around the planet. In backyard-size Eagle Crater, Opportunity found evidence of an ancient wet environment.

The mission met all its goals within the originally planned span of three months. During most of the next four years, it explored successively larger and deeper craters, adding evidence about wet and dry periods from the same era as the Eagle Crater deposits.

In mid-2008, researchers drove Opportunity out of Victoria Crater, half a mile (800 meters) in diameter, and set course for Endeavour Crater, 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter.

"Endeavour is a window further into Mars' past," said Mars Exploration Rover Program Manager John Callas, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The trek took three years. In a push to finish it, Opportunity drove farther during its eighth year on Mars - 4.8 miles (7.7 kilometers) - than in any prior year, bringing its total driving distance to 21.4 miles (34.4 kilometers).

The "Cape York" segment of Endeavour's rim, where Opportunity has been working since August 2011, has already validated the choice of Endeavour as a long-term goal. "It's like starting a new mission, and we hit pay dirt right out of the gate," Callas said.

The first outcrop that Opportunity examined on Cape York differs from any the rover had seen previously. Its high zinc content suggests effects of water. Weeks later, at the edge of Cape York, a bright mineral vein identified as hydrated calcium sulfate provided what the mission's principal investigator, Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., calls "the clearest evidence for liquid water on Mars that we have found in our eight years on the planet."

Mars years last nearly twice as long as Earth years. Entering its ninth Earth year on Mars, Opportunity is also heading into its fifth Martian winter. Its solar panels have accumulated so much dust since Martian winds last cleaned them - more than in previous winters - the rover needs to stay on a sun-facing slope to have enough energy to keep active through the winter.
Oh and speaking of Mars...
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