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Pluto debris poses risk to New Horizons


Posted on Wednesday, 24 October, 2012 | Comment icon 11 comments | News tip by: Waspie_Dwarf


Image credit: NASA

 
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."

  View: Full article |  Source: jhuapl.edu

  Discuss: View comments (11)

   


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by highdesert50 on 24 October, 2012, 15:02
Karmatic retribution for being recategorized as a dwarf planet.
Comment icon #3 Posted by pallidin on 24 October, 2012, 15:49
Well, I quess at least they detected this potential threat before it was too late for the spacecraft.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Hazzard on 24 October, 2012, 16:13
I have been waiting for this one ever sense they launched it. Would suck if it got destroyed before we got a good look at Pluto.
Comment icon #5 Posted by pallidin on 24 October, 2012, 16:30
Yeah, hopefully whatever adjusted pass-by they decide on to avoid dangerous debris will still enable imaging studies(visual, spectrum, radar) of enough resolution to gain further insight into Pluto and it's moons/space environment.
Comment icon #6 Posted by kcuhC on 24 October, 2012, 18:48
Oh, hey, cool...I had forgotten we still had a little piece of a space program left. Soon as word gets out, we'll shut that down too.
Comment icon #7 Posted by sergeantflynn on 24 October, 2012, 19:27
All that space junk will be from the inhabitants of Pluto . We`ll feel quite at home when we get there .
Comment icon #8 Posted by Taun on 24 October, 2012, 20:25
I have faith that the 'bulging forehead' type guys and gals on this mission will get this sorted out in time... While it might sound quite crowded - and probably is on a system wide scale... on the human scale I'm sure there is plenty of room... A friend of mine was convinced that we would never be able to get a probe past the asteroid belt (despite both Voyagers making it easily) because she though the belt was as insanely crowded as they are shown in sci-fi movies... Like Hazzard said - I've been eagerly awaiting this probe to make it to Pluto... It's always been one of my favorite planets -... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by sergeantflynn on 24 October, 2012, 20:54
I remember staying behind after school to do Astronomy . Early 1960`s . My stance now is the same as then . Pluto is too far away to lend it brainroom . Far too many problems here to sort out . But there again , if the unwashed and starving don`t mind why should I ? And , no , my head has never been buried in the sand . NURSE............!
Comment icon #10 Posted by Taun on 24 October, 2012, 21:06
I remember staying behind after school to do Astronomy . Early 1960`s . My stance now is the same as then . Pluto is too far away to lend it brainroom . Far too many problems here to sort out . But there again , if the unwashed and starving don`t mind why should I ? And , no , my head has never been buried in the sand . NURSE............! I can kind of understand where you're coming from on this but, if humans didn't look beyond our problems "Here" until there were no problems "Here", we never would have evolved from the primordial sludge...
Comment icon #11 Posted by sergeantflynn on 24 October, 2012, 21:32
But we are still in the sludge . Of course , it`s in a different form now . Today`s technology on earth has spread the sludge over a wider area hence giving the impression that it is shallower than before . Far better to be up to your knees than your neck . I pity my grandchildren and yours . Appreciate your reply . Kind regards .


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