“We’re on our way to Pluto,” says New Horizons Mission Operations Manager Alice Bowman, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md. “The swingby was a success; the spacecraft is on course and performed just as we expected.”
New Horizons came within 1.4 million miles (2.3 million kilometers) of Jupiter at 12:43 a.m. EST, threading an “aim point” that puts it on target to reach the Pluto system in July 2015. During closest approach the spacecraft was out of touch with Earth – busily gathering science data on the giant planet, its moons and atmosphere – but by 11:55 a.m. EST mission operators at APL had established contact with New Horizons through NASA’s Deep Space Network and confirmed its health and status.
The fastest spacecraft ever launched, New Horizons is gaining nearly 9,000 miles per hour (14,000 kilometers per hour) from Jupiter’s gravity – half the speed of a space shuttle in orbit – accelerating past 52,000 mph (83,600 km/h) away from the Sun. New Horizons has covered approximately 500 million miles (800 million kilometers) since launch in January 2006, and reached Jupiter quicker than the seven previous spacecraft to visit the solar system’s largest planet. Today it raced through an aim point just 500 miles (800 kilometers) across – the equivalent of a skeet shooter in Washington hitting a target in Baltimore on the first try.
New Horizons has been running through an intense six-month systems check that will include more than 700 science observations of the Jupiter system by the end of June. More than half of those observations are taking place this week, including scans of Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, measurements of its magnetic cocoon (called the magnetosphere), surveys of its delicate rings, maps of the composition and topography of the large moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, and a detailed look at volcanic activity on Io. While much of the close-in science data will be sent back to Earth during the coming weeks, the team will download a sampling of images this week to verify New Horizons’ performance.The outbound leg of New Horizons’ journey includes the first-ever trip down the long "tail" of Jupiter's magnetosphere, a wide stream of charged particles that extends more than 100 million miles beyond the planet. And telescopes on and above Earth – from amateur astronomers’ backyard telescopes, to the giant Keck telescope in Hawaii, to the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-Ray Observatory and others – are turning to Jupiter as New Horizons flies by, ready to provide global context to the close-up data New Horizons gathers.
For the latest news and images, visit http://pluto.jhuapl.edu or www.nasa.gov/newhorizons/.
New Horizons is the first mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program of medium-class spacecraft exploration projects. Stern leads the mission and science team as principal investigator; APL manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, and designed, built and operates the spacecraft. The mission team also includes KinetX Inc. (navigation support), Ball Aerospace Corporation, the Boeing Company, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Stanford University, Lockheed Martin Corporation, University of Colorado, the U.S. Department of Energy, and a number of other firms, NASA centers, and university partners.
Michael Buckley | EurekAlert!
Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect
24.05.2017 | Vienna University of Technology
Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect
24.05.2017 | University of Cologne
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Event News