Monday, January 26, 2015

NASA's New Horizons Spacecraft Starts Its Approach Towards Pluto

Artist conception, from Wikipedia
Last week I had to drop off items for my son at our local Barnes and Nobles.  While completing my task, I happened by the magazine racks and spotted the February 2015 edition of Astronomy Magazine and on its cover was an illustration of the New Horizons spacecraft zooming by Pluto, "NASA Sets Its Sights on Pluto:  New Horizons spacecraft begins its approach."  I quickly grabbed the magazine and purchased it on the spot.

I remember vividly watching the launch of the craft back on January 19, 2006 on TV.  This was no ordinary launch for NASA as it was not launching a satellite or probe to meet up with an asteroid or comet.  This was a planned mission to Pluto and its moon, Charon.  It would take nine years to reach its destination.  I was spell bound both by the mission and the relative short time required to cover the distance to Pluto.

From Wikipedia, New Horizon's launch Jan. 19, 2006
New Horizons reached Jupiter in January 2007 providing photos and details of some of Jupiter's moons during its flyby and gravity assist towards Pluto.

Now, nine years later, the waiting is almost over...I'm still spell bound and filled with a sense of anticipation and awe.  New Horizons will reach Pluto around July 14, 2015.  As I write, the craft is out of hibernation mode and conducting imaging of this tiny dwarf planet.  BTW, for those not aware, Clyde Tombaugh's cremains are on board the craft.  Tombaugh was credited with discovering the tiny planet in 1930.  For the UFO aficionados, Tombaugh's bio on Wikipedia has an interesting UFO section concerning Tombaugh's interests in UFOs. 

Here is NASA's site for the New Horizons mission.  And the Wikipedia entry as well.

Both web sites and magazine are good reads providing in-depth details about the spacecraft and it's mission.

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