On the way to Pluto at last!

We are the Borg.
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Post by Guy Noir »

I was wasting time at work watching the launch.

Fun fact: the Original Atlas missle was the first US ICBM. I think it may have been desined without any input from the Von Braun team. It had many new design ideas that the German rocket guys had never thought of.

The Atlas 5 rocket now uses Russian engines.

What a difference 40 years can make.
[Insert pointless political statement here.]
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Post by DrMatt »

Abdul Alhazred wrote:
Guy Noir wrote:What a difference 40 years can make.
It could have made more. :x
It could have made 120 years worth of difference, but then we'd all be dead.
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Post by DrMatt »

Now that there's a mission to Pluto, when will there be a mission to Goofy?
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Post by Guy Noir »

DrMatt wrote:Now that there's a mission to Pluto, when will there be a mission to Goofy?
Doh already took care of that when he sent his cult to the spaceship in the comet's tail.









Or at least it would have been Goofy if they had not all died..........
[Insert pointless political statement here.]
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Post by swellman »

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/mission/whereis_nh.php

Shows current location of New Horizons probe. Updated hourly!
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Post by DrMatt »

Wow, they're taking it straight out. That must have been a heck of a burn to get it going like that. Remember how the Cassini mission used gravitational resonance with Venus to get going fast enough to reach Saturn? A straight shot out to Pluto makes me think the thing will need a heck of a retrorocket burn to actually catch a decent glimpse of Pluto as it zooms by.

It looks like if they wanted to, they could have sent the thing to Venus and it would be crashing there later this week already. That's fast!
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Post by swellman »

Just bumping this thread because I think it's cool that we can hurl a probe past lunar orbit in 8.5 hours and martian orbit in just 76 days. Per this link "New Horizons will cross the red planet's orbit on April 6, 2006". That just seems cool to me.

Abdul, please start the 30 day countdown.
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Post by swellman »

We can't add hacks, can we?

One of those countdown clocks one sees on the travel site boards would be nice.

Have to do it the old fashioned way...
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Post by DrMatt »

Abdul Alhazred wrote:There will be a bit of "gravity boost" when it flies by Jupiter.
Yes, the overview clearly shows that as a dogleg in the trajectory. Another one of those angular momentum tricks. I still wonder how they're going to slow the thing down. They picked a good time to catch Pluto, as it'll still be relatively close to the sun. Another 50 years and they'd have a hunk further to go...
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Post by swellman »

29 days to martian orbit
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Post by En folkefiende »

swellman wrote:http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/mission/whereis_nh.php

Shows current location of New Horizons probe. Updated hourly!
Whooeee, that thing is ripping right along, too. How long until it crosses Mars orbit?

ETA: Never mind, I see the answer!
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Post by swellman »

28 days to martian orbit
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Post by swellman »

Abdul Alhazred wrote:Bump!
Please do not interrupt the countdown. It takes a lot of concentration.

27 days to martian orbit
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Post by swellman »

Some NH space geek trivia and commentary can be found here.

- The journey will take precisely 3462.7 days, i.e., from 19:00 UTC on Jan, 19, 2006, to 12:00 UTC July 14, 2015, to reach Pluto.

- NH was inside 1 Astronomical Unit (AU) until late on Jan. 29 UTC, therefore it was an inner planet mission for the first 10 days.

- NH will pass the orbit of Mars on April 8, just a little after the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter got there - and MRO had a 5.5-month head start.

- Closest approach to Jupiter will occur at approximately 6 hours UTC on Feb. 28, 2007. Closest approach distance will be 32 Jupiter radii.

- Because NH slows down in a series of Trajectory Correction Maneuvers, the third stage will beat NH to Jupiter. However, because it will not hit the Pluto aim point, it will not beat NH to Pluto. (Which is a relief - can you imagine being the second to arrive at Pluto after all this, having been beat by a derelict Boeing upper stage?)

Updating the countdown based on the above information,

21 days to Martian orbit
347 days to Jupiter
3404 days to Pluto



Orbit encounter information for Saturn, Uranus and Neptune will be added when it becomes available. :shock:

Stay tuned!
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Post by Doctor X »

Let me know when we have 17 days . . . 17 DAYS! . . . because I, for one, need to be hopping mad. . . .

:HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2:

--J.D.
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"Doctor X is just treating you the way he treats everyone--as subhuman crap too dumb to breathe in after you breathe out." – Don
DocX: FTW. – sparks
"Doctor X wins again." – Pyrrho
"Never sorry to make a racist Fucktard cry." – His Humble MagNIfIcence
"It was the criticisms of Doc X, actually, that let me see more clearly how far the hypocrisy had gone." – clarsct
"I'd leave it up to Doctor X who has been a benevolent tyrant so far." – Grammatron
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Shit. That's going to end up in your sig." – Pyrrho
"Try a twelve step program and accept Doctor X as your High Power." – asthmatic camel
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Post by Doctor X »

:HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2:
:HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad:
:HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2:
:HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad:
:HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2:
:HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad:
:HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2:
:HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad:
:HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2:
:HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad:
:HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2:
:HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad: :HoppingMad2: :HoppingMad:

Woa . . . dude!

--J.D.
Mob of the Mean: Free beanie, cattle-prod and Charley Fan Club!
"Doctor X is just treating you the way he treats everyone--as subhuman crap too dumb to breathe in after you breathe out." – Don
DocX: FTW. – sparks
"Doctor X wins again." – Pyrrho
"Never sorry to make a racist Fucktard cry." – His Humble MagNIfIcence
"It was the criticisms of Doc X, actually, that let me see more clearly how far the hypocrisy had gone." – clarsct
"I'd leave it up to Doctor X who has been a benevolent tyrant so far." – Grammatron
"Indeed you are a river to your people.
Shit. That's going to end up in your sig." – Pyrrho
"Try a twelve step program and accept Doctor X as your High Power." – asthmatic camel
"just like Doc X said." – gnome

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Post by swellman »

Here is an unofficial continuous countdown clock for New Horizons. It makes a few simplifications, but what the hell.
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Post by swellman »

Best dates I could find for NH (from Wikipedia, so take with a grain of salt):

9 June 2008 - The probe will pass Saturn's orbit.
5 March 2011 - The probe will pass Uranus' orbit.
1 August 2014 - The probe will pass Neptune's orbit.


There is a lot of conflicting information on mission "milestones" other than the Jupiter closest approach. Since such dates have really no bearing on the mission, NASA and the SMEs are't wasting their time publishing such things.

Taking the best info I could glean and updating the countdowns:

17 days :HoppingMad: to Martian orbit
343 days to closet approach to Jupiter
811 days to Saturn orbit
1810 days to Uranus orbit
3055 days to Neptune orbit
3401 days to Pluto encounter

Check back here soon for more :BeatDeadHorse2:
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Post by swellman »

13 days to Martian orbit
339 days to closet approach to Jupiter
807 days to Saturn orbit
1806 days to Uranus orbit
3051 days to Neptune orbit
3397 days to Pluto encounter
4239 days until the 2006 SC Poker Challenge is completed :bigthumb:
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Post by DrMatt »

swellman wrote:13 days to Martian orbit
339 days to closet approach to Jupiter
807 days to Saturn orbit
1806 days to Uranus orbit
3051 days to Neptune orbit
3397 days to Pluto encounter
4239 days until the 2006 SC Poker Challenge is completed :bigthumb:
I had no idea that Jupiter was in the closet. Myth has it that he made a lot of kids by raping random Mediterranian ladies, and certain ladies (Arachne, Io, etc.) got turned into animals (spider, cow) by goddesses protecting them from Jupiter's clutches. As far as I could tell, Jupiter never had any shame.
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Post by swellman »

DrMatt wrote:
swellman wrote:13 days to Martian orbit
339 days to closet approach to Jupiter
807 days to Saturn orbit
1806 days to Uranus orbit
3051 days to Neptune orbit
3397 days to Pluto encounter
4239 days until the 2006 SC Poker Challenge is completed :bigthumb:
I had no idea that Jupiter was in the closet. Myth has it that he made a lot of kids by raping random Mediterranian ladies, and certain ladies (Arachne, Io, etc.) got turned into animals (spider, cow) by goddesses protecting them from Jupiter's clutches. As far as I could tell, Jupiter never had any shame.
Doc, no one likes a wiseass. Except me.

7 days to Martian orbit
333 days to closest approach to Jupiter
801 days to Saturn orbit
1800 days to yoUranus orbit
3045 days to Neptune orbit
3391 days to Pluto encounter
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Hew Horizons Passes Martian Orbit

Post by swellman »

1 down, 5 to go!

Image[/img]


327 days to Jupiter slingshot
795 days to Saturn orbit
1794 days to Uranus orbit
3039 days to Neptune orbit
3385 days to Pluto encounter
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More New Horizons Love

Post by swellman »

From the New Horizons site

Passing the Orbit of Mars

New Horizons' trailblazing journey to the solar system's outermost frontier took it past the orbit of Mars at 6 a.m. EDT (1000 UTC) on April 7, 2006 - 78 days after the spacecraft launched.

At the time, because of Mars' position in its orbit, New Horizons was actually closer to Earth than to Mars - just 93.5 million kilometers (58.1 million miles) from home, compared to 299 million kilometers (186 million miles) from the red planet. Speeding away from the Sun at 21 kilometers (about 13 miles) per second, the spacecraft crossed Mars' path some 243 million kilometers (151 million miles) from the Sun - close to the farthest point in Mars' elliptical 687-day orbit.

Next up: Jupiter

New Horizons reaches its next planetary milestone on February 28, 2007, when it makes its closest approach to Jupiter. Unlike the distant Mars passing, the Jupiter encounter will be at close range, allowing New Horizons to make important scientific observations and to test procedures for its Pluto encounter in 2015. Additionally, New Horizons will use Jupiter's powerful gravity to boost its speed and adjust its course toward Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.

---break---

I've read that two of the instruments onboard NH have been left dormant until the spacecraft is distant from the sun in order to minimize accidental sun pointing. It will be a significant milestone for the project when these systems are up and running to spec.

They are also fixing some bugs in the on-board computer code. They launched the probe with several documented bugs in their software, but reasoned they had years to correct and test it on the ground during the mission. Then it's just a software upload. Ballsy move. I cannot see the NASA of old ever going with such a strategy.
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Re: More New Horizons Love

Post by DrMatt »

swellman wrote:Ballsy move. I cannot see the NASA of old ever going with such a strategy.
I can't see the NASA of old outsourcing software to Bill.

When our overlords from Pluto arrive, we'll have Plutocracy.

Wait.

We already have that.

Never mind.
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Re: More New Horizons Love

Post by swellman »

DrMatt wrote: I can't see the NASA of old outsourcing software to Bill.
:? Microsoft wrote the software for New Horizons?

Or am I just dense this morning? (Very likely)
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New Horizons takes its game to the next level

Post by swellman »

Distances now expressed in AU.

Very geeky, very exciting!

Image

320 days to Jupiter slingshot
788 days to Saturn orbit
1787 days to Uranus orbit
3032 days to Neptune orbit
3378 days to Pluto encounter
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NH Passes Another Meaningless Milestone

Post by swellman »

On a project like this, one must take things a day at a time.

From the New Horizons Website:

"On a voyage to Pluto that will take nearly a decade, 100 days might not seem like much," says Alan Stern, mission principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. "But the team has accomplished a lot in that short time, and the mission is going exceptionally well. Now we're working hard to calibrate the scientific payload and prepare the science instruments and spacecraft for our encounter with Jupiter, just 10 months ahead."
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Moving right along

Post by swellman »

I am still facinated by this goddam thing. Maybe it's because as a kid such missions took a sizeable percentage of my lifetime to execute.

Anyway, latest position:

Image[/img]


Current predicted dates of outer planet orbit encounters:

Jupiter: February 28, 2007 (279 days)
Saturn: June 8, 2008 (745 days)
Uranus: March 18, 2011 (1,758 days)
Neptune: August 24, 2014 (3,013 days)
Pluto: July 14, 2015 (3,337 days)
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Post by swellman »

The current image of NH's flight path now includes the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It has covered about 20% of the distance between the two. The graphic doesn't indicate the asteroid belt, but as Abdul points out, it's entering the area at 28 km/s. Fun!

Image
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Post by DrMatt »

The curvature in the path prior to the encounter with Jupiter. Is that primarly due to the sun?
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Post by DrMatt »

The curvature in the path prior to the encounter with Jupiter. Is that primarly due to the sun?

When the thing finally gets into position around Pluto, it's going to have to be quite autonomous, eh? A software upload takes ... how long, exactly, to cross the space?
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Post by swellman »

DrMatt wrote:The curvature in the path prior to the encounter with Jupiter. Is that primarly due to the sun?
Yes.
DrMatt wrote:When the thing finally gets into position around Pluto, it's going to have to be quite autonomous, eh? A software upload takes ... how long, exactly, to cross the space?
Pluto is about 4 light hours from Earth.

It sounds like the big challenge is the data rate:

During the Jupiter flyby in February 2007, New Horizons will send data home at about 38 kilobits per second (kbps), which is slightly slower than the transmission speed for most computer modems. The situation gets even more challenging when New Horizons reaches Pluto, where the downlink rate falls to about 300-600 bits per second. At 300 bps, mission operators would need nearly 12 hours to downlink a single image from New Horizons' long-range imager, and nearly 40 days of continuous downlink to gather the entire 10 gigabits (or so) of data during the Pluto-Charon encounter.

Since NASA's Deep Space Network has to track other missions besides New Horizons, the team plans to produce compressed "browse" data - using an average compression ratio of about 20 - that will be sent back to Earth within 10 days of Pluto closest approach. At that compression rate some of the original data will be lost. However, New Horizons scientists will examine the browse data carefully and set priorities for downlinking "losslessly compressed" data that doesn't lose any original content. Some of the browse data will good enough for immediate public release, so everyone can share in the excitement of the flyby. Initial analyses of the so-called losslessly compressed data should appear in peer-reviewed scientific journals with a year after the Pluto-Charon flyby.
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Post by DrMatt »

Um, is the precipitous fall-off in the data rate due to the drop-off of signal and thus the proportional rise in the noise floor?
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NH had encounter with asteroid 2002 JF56

Post by swellman »

More here on asteroid flyby

On June 13, 2006, New Horizons passed approximately 102,000 kilometers (nearly 63,500 miles) from asteroid 2002 JF56, a small, relatively unknown body less than 5 kilometers (3 miles) in diameter. At that distance, the asteroid was so small that the Ralph imager could just barely resolve it. (The higher-resolution LORRI camera can't open its door until late August, to guard against accidental Sun pointing. So while LORRI could have resolved the asteroid, the camera couldn't observe it for safety reasons.)

But the "encounter" with 2002 JF56 was still highly useful to New Horizons. The team successfully tested Ralph's optical navigation and moving-target-tracking capabilities, using this flight test to gain valuable experience in tracking moving targets for the Jupiter and Pluto flybys.
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Post by swellman »

NH is now closer to Jupiter than Earth (or the sun for that matter).

ETA linky

<img src="http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/whereisnh/curre ... 1_0312.jpg" width=500>
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Post by swellman »

bumped cause it seemed the thing to do, dammit!
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Post by swellman »

New Horizon's close encounter with Jupiter occurs on 28 Feb 07, but there should be some nice images in the days/weeks around that date. Mark your calendars!

I wonder when the gravition pull of Jupiter on NH becomes greater than that of the sun?

More here

<img src="http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/whereisnh/curre ... 1_0265.jpg" width=510>

After that, it's on through the outer planets. Kind of like riding a train through the plains - lots of nothing to see for a long, long time...

<img src="http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/whereisnh/overv ... 1_0265.jpg" width=510>
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Post by swellman »

swellman wrote:I wonder when the gravition pull of Jupiter on NH becomes greater than that of the sun?
Fun problem.

I estimate sometime on 13 Feb 07.

Anyone else want to take a stab?
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Post by swellman »

From the Principal Investigator of New Horizons:
As we continue to fly outward from the Sun at 78,700 kilometers (48,600 miles) an hour, our communications time, or RTLT (round trip light time), is increasing rapidly. In fact, it's now approaching an hour and a half round trip, at the speed of light!
This is apparently causes problems, as the team is still designing and uploading the necessary command sequences to the spacecraft (along with patches and updates for the software itself :shock:). Many hoped for observations had to be cut:
With more than 165 observations on the Jupiter encounter wish list and a record-setting fast trajectory to Jupiter, we recently found ourselves on too tight of a schedule to get everything planned, built, tested, and ready for uplink to New Horizons.

So last week, as mission PI, I opted for us to go light on distant observations beginning in January and early February. This meant cutting out almost 2/3 of the originally hoped for observations in January. Most of these involved the two instruments I am responsible for, Alice and Ralph. Although we're still left with more than 20 science activities in January (a record compared to anything we did during instrument commissioning), including plasma monitoring on approach, imaging of Jupiter, and some distant calibration activities, there was pain in this, because I had to sacrifice a bevy of Io torus and Jovian auroral observations on approach.
That kind of sucks. :(
The reward for this sacrifice on distant approach, however, comes at Jupiter. There, in an intensive 10-day period around our Feb. 28 closest approach, we now have a fighting chance of designing, testing and carrying out virtually all of the approximately 100 observation sequences planned to occur when we're in the heart of the Jupiter system.
Well, that's something I guess.

Much more in the article. Also, the current position of NH can be found here.

<img src="http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/whereisnh/curre ... 1_0049.jpg" width=510>
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Post by swellman »

NH less than 1 AU* from Jupiter!!!

Closest approach to Jupiter is still 28 Feb, but we should start seeing some images of the Jovian system in a month or so.



<img src="http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/whereisnh/curre ... 1_0666.jpg" width=510>





*Yet another meaningless milestone as part of my insane quest to keep this topic active.