Dangerous debris orbiting around Pluto could prove a hazard to NASA's approaching New Horizons probe.
Soon to be the first spacecraft to ever visit Pluto, New Horizons is now 7 years in to it's 9 and-a-half year voyage to the outer solar system and is expected to arrive at the beginning of 2015. What scientists didn't know at the time of launch however is that Pluto appears to be harboring large quantities of dangerous debris that could prove disastrous in the event of a collision.
To combat this new threat, scientists are using every resource at their disposal to detect debris around Pluto and to plot a course for the spacecraft that will allow it to carry out its mission but with as small a risk as possible of it being hit by something. "Because our spacecraft is traveling so fast - more than 30,000 miles per hour - a collision with a single pebble, or even a millimeter-sized grain, could cripple or destroy New Horizons," said Scientist Hal Weaver.
"As New Horizons has traveled through space, its science team has become increasingly aware of the possibility that dangerous debris may be orbiting in the Pluto system, putting the spacecraft and its exploration objectives into harm’s way."
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