Space!!!

February 28th, 2007at 01:02am Posted by Eli

Exciting space news:

The New Horizons spacecraft, launched from Earth by NASA some 13 months ago, is moving in for a close encounter with Jupiter on Wednesday that should let it test its suite of instruments before being flung off toward the distant target of Pluto and its trio of moons.

The half-ton, atomic-powered robot craft is to make more than 700 observations of Jupiter and its four largest moons by June. A period of high-intensity observations began last Saturday and will peak after the craft makes its closest approach to Jupiter on Wednesday, passing 1.4 million miles from the center of the giant planet.

(Does that seem like an odd formulation to anyone else? Why not describe it in terms of distance from Jupiter’s surface?)

New Horizons is powered by a small plutonium-fueled electric generator, and its instruments include three cameras, for visible-light, infrared and ultraviolet images, a space-dust collector and three spectrometers to study the chemical composition and temperatures of the worlds it investigates.

Very appropriate that the first robot probe to visit Pluto would be powered by Plutonium. And it’s probably cheaper than old people’s medicine, too.

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Science,Technology


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