New Horizons – An Outlandish Journey in Universe Starts with Pluto
The big unanswered question is about Pluto is what is it even? After this mission we see Pluto like we never seen it before. Nine-and-a-half years ago spacecraft called new horizons set up on a mission to Pluto. Pluto has always had the power to inspire from Walt Disney back in the thirties to an outraged public. But the truth is the Pluto is a place we know so little about. Pluto is the last unexplored world of the solar system.
Founding of Pluto
In 1930 American astronomer Clyde Tombo took 2 photographs with telescope six days apart of the night sky. One of the dots is moved. It had to be a planet. It was named Pluto by little girl in England after Roman god of the underworld. Her grandfather was an Oxford that he passed on her suggestion and then American entrepreneur, cartoonist, animator choose this name. He choose this name for a cartoon dog for a new show. The public’s love for the dog went on for decades while poor little Pluto the planet got sidelined until Alan Stern and his team comes along.
New Horizons Team
The new horizons team made with the most elite space scientists. The mission leader of the team is the Alan Stern. He devoted 26 years to this project. Dr. Marc Buie is the co-investigator for the New Horizons space program. Dr. Hal Weaver is the project scientist of the New Horizons. Prof. Fran Bagenal is the team leader of this mission belongs to particles and plasma team. Gabe Rogers is the head of the guiding team. Dr. Amanda Zangari is postdoc., researcher. She is a head of the department geology and geophysics for New Horizons. Dr. Cathy Olkin is the deputy project scientist of this mission. By this and also many other scientists efforts now we can see a new Pluto we never before see. Mission control team must guide the space craft minute by minute.
Starting phase of mission & New Horizons Space Craft
In 2001 New Horizons mission get green light to encounter with Pluto. Normally every space craft take 10 years to build, but team do not had much time so they require some creative solutions. New Horizons space craft created within 4 years. The New Horizons space craft is the fastest man-made object which leaves the earth. Space craft is made with light weight triangular frame. They cut the corners of the space craft to reduce the mass and they also avoid mechanisms because mechanisms have a tendency to fail. For the power they also create a unique solutions they use plutonium power generator. It produces only 200 watts. So obviously the spacecraft doesn’t have even enough power to run an electric motor to pointed radio antenna and on instead they have to rotate whole spacecraft to communicate with Earth. To points its cameras and instruments to Pluto will mean pointing the whole spacecraft away from Earth. Cutting off all contact from mission control. They have to turn spacecraft to take measurements. There are total 7 instruments on New Horizons which take different measurements including its polar caps, atmosphere and its weather.
On January 19, 2006 New Horizons space craft launched by the Atlas V rocket launcher. Actually Pluto is the potentially a gold mine for teaching us about formation of larger planets like earth. That’s why they had to go to Pluto. A thousand pound masterpiece of engineering the size of a grand piano is reached at the outer from the solar system. The speed of the space craft in the space is 9 miles per second (16 km/s). At the year twitter begin in 2006, the space craft also launched in this same year. A year later when the first I-Phone was launched the space craft passed Jupiter. At this stage the new horizons team used the opportunity to test the New Horizons cameras on Jupiter and its moons. And they get the best picture of volcano erupting speaks. In next two year in 2008 and 2009 it silently run in empty space as the world descended into financial chaos. Because of the weird shape (elliptical shape) of Pluto’s orbit its closest distance from the sun is 3 billion miles and farthest distance is 5 billion miles. Pluto is closest to Earth in 1889 and science then it getting further away and 2015 we have another opportunity to reach Pluto and it not to be missed.
Flyby of Spacecraft and Orbit of Pluto
To get the data back to Earth there is no power on the spacecraft to run all the instruments at a time. So team program flyby science sequence tells New Horizons which instrument to turn on and when. Team has to send this flyby in advance. Even traveling at like it takes four and a half hours for the signal to get there and several days for New Horizons to process. With the flyby science sequence lock the climax of this mission comes down to tiny. Flyby predicts the exact second New Horizons fly-past at tiny Pluto. So this way to create good flyby scientist predict the Pluto’s orbit precisely. But spacecraft left the Earth before nine and a half year ago that team lacked that critical information. Pluto takes 240 years to go around the sun once. The data of 1930 to 1950 data of Pluto’s orbit is less accurate. But after 1990 we have good data of Pluto’s orbit. So it’s difficult to create the crop of Pluto’s orbit. Each new curve make new orbit and each one is around 62,000 miles apart. In 2012 when one third part of the mission complete team know New Horizons spacecraft completely miss Pluto. So team has find solution which is best. Dr. Marc Buie found a solution for this at Lowell observatory. And incredibly he stumbles upon a stockpile a telescope images at the night sky around Pluto.
Moons of Pluto
Pluto is not alone. Hubble revealed that the plot has moons. Pluto has five moons. Sharon is the largest moon of the Pluto. It is half Pluto size. Pluto and Sharon both dance around each other unlike any other planetary body in the solar system. Scientist believes that if New Horizons revel that how Pluto and its moon create it will help in explain how Earth and moon formed. They also believe that the by understanding this it might reveal how Pluto is small. And it also tells us how earth was flat which is what led to us. Astronomer found another over thousand tiny objects out Pluto. Some of them are as big as Pluto. They called this new region the Kuiper Belt it sometimes also called as Edgeworth–Kuiper Belt. It is a massive constellation of space rocks and ice orbiting the Sun. only this Kuiper Belt discovery made New Horizons mission more important. These rocks are relics left over from the formation of the solar system. A single green dust takes out the spacecraft.
What we got?
After nine and half years and covering 3.6 billion miles New Horizons successfully reached at Pluto. Scientist stared analyzing data which taken by instruments on spacecraft. By analyzing that picture in different wavelengths of lights it reveals traces of Nitrogen, Methane and Carbon Monoxide. As we know Pluto is so far from the sun it has to be one of the most rigid places in the solar system. On Pluto temperature is about -390 degrees Fahrenheit. There are almost rock and ice on the Pluto. The ices are carbon monoxide ice and nitrogen ice and also methane ice. Some scientists think where the week sun hits the surface of the Pluto some ice could get heated turning directly into gas. Pluto could be a mountainous world exotic ice primordial rock, gases spewing out of its surface.
In 2038 New Horizons will be 100 AU (Astronomical Unit, unit of measuring length, 1 Astronomical Unit =149 597 871 kilometers) from the Sun. If still functioning, the probe will explore the outer Heliosphere.