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July 7, 2015

M15-103

NASA to Hold Media Call Today to Discuss New Horizons Mission Plans Following Spacecraft Anomaly

NASA will host a media teleconference at 3 p.m. EDT today to discuss the New Horizons spacecraft returning to normal science operations after a July 4 anomaly. The mission remains on track to conduct the entire close flyby sequence as planned, including the July 14 flyby of Pluto.

Participants in the teleconference will be:

·         Jim Green, director of Planetary Science, NASA Headquarters, Washington

·         Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado

·         Glen Fountain, New Horizons project manager, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland

To participate by phone, reporters must contact Steve Cole at 202-358-0918 or stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov and provide their media affiliation no later than 2 p.m.

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at:

http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

For information about the New Horizons Mission visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons

-end-

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Sarah Ramsey

Tags:  New Horizons,

New Horizons

July 3, 2015

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Pluto and Charon Surfaces in Living Color

This is the first movie created by New Horizons to reveal color surface features of Pluto and its largest moon Charon. “It’s a bit unusual to see so much surface detail at this distance,” said New Horizons co-investigator William McKinnon of the Geology and Geophysics Investigation Team, Washington University in Saint Louis. “What’s especially noteworthy is the level of detail in both bodies. It’s certainly whetting our appetite for what’s to come.”

The images were taken between June 23 and June 29, 2015, as New Horizons’ distance to Pluto decreased from a distance of 15 million to 11 million miles (24 million to 18 million kilometers). Six high-resolution black-and-white images from New Horizons’ LORRI instrument were combined with color data from the Ralph instrument to produce the movie.

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Lillian Gipson

Tags:  New Horizons, Pluto, Solar System,

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Pluto

July 2, 2015

15-143

NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Stays the Course to Pluto

These images show the difference between two sets of 48 combined 10-second exposures with New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera, taken at 8:40 UTC and 10:25 UTC on June 26, 2015, from a range of 21.5 million kilometers (approximately 13 million miles) to Pluto. The known small moons, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos and Styx, are visible as adjacent bright and dark pairs of dots, due to their motion in the 105 minutes between the two image sets.

Credits: NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is getting a final “all clear” as it speeds closer to its historic July 14 flyby of Pluto and the dwarf planet’s five moons.

After seven weeks of detailed searches for dust clouds, rings, and other potential hazards, the New Horizons team has decided the spacecraft will remain on its original path through the Pluto system instead of making a late course correction to detour around any hazards. Because New Horizons is traveling at 30,800 mph (49,600 kph), a particle as small as a grain of rice could be lethal.

“We’re breathing a collective sigh of relief knowing that the way appears to be clear,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA. “The science payoff will be richer as we gather data from the optimal flight path, as opposed to having to conduct observations from one of the back-up trajectories.”

Mission scientists have been using the spacecraft’s most powerful telescopic camera, the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), to look for potential hazards, such as small moons, rings, or dust, since mid-May. The decision on whether to keep the spacecraft on its original course or adopt a Safe Haven by Other Trajectory, or "SHBOT" path, had to be made this week since the last opportunity to maneuver New Horizons onto an alternate trajectory is July 4.

“Not finding new moons or rings present is a bit of a scientific surprise to most of us,” said principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. “But as a result, no engine burn is needed to steer clear of potential hazards. We presented these data to NASA for review and received approval to proceed on course and plan. We are ‘go’ for the best of our planned Pluto encounter trajectories.”

New Horizons formed a hazard analysis team in 2011, after the discovery of Pluto’s fourth moon, Kerberos, raised concerns the cratering of these moons by small debris from the outer area of the solar system known as the Kuiper Belt, could spread additional hazardous debris into New Horizons’ path. Mission engineers re-tested spare spacecraft blanketing and parts back on Earth to determine how well they would stand up to particle impacts, and scientists modeled the likely formation and locations of rings and debris in the Pluto system. By the time New Horizons’ cameras were close enough to Pluto to start the search last month, the team had already estimated the chances of a catastrophic incident at far less than one percent.

The images used in the latest searches that cleared the mission to stay on its current course were taken June 22, 23 and 26. Pluto and all five of its known moons are visible in the images, but scientists saw no rings, new moons, or hazards of any kind. The hazards team determined that satellites as faint as about 15 times dimmer than Pluto’s faintest known moon, Styx, would have been seen if they existed beyond the orbit of Pluto’s largest and closest moon, Charon.

If any rings do exist, the hazard team determined they must be extremely faint, reflecting less than one 5-millionth of the incoming sunlight.

“The suspense – at least most of it – is behind us,” says John Spencer, of SwRI, who leads the New Horizons hazard analysis team. “As a scientist I’m a bit disappointed that we didn’t spot additional moons to study, but as a New Horizons team member I am much more relieved that we didn’t find something that could harm the spacecraft. New Horizons already has six amazing objects to analyze in this incredible system.”

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, designed, built, and operates the New Horizons spacecraft, and manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. The Southwest Research Institute, based in San Antonio, leads the science team, payload operations and encounter science planning. New Horizons is part of the New Frontiers Program managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

For more information on the New Horizons mission, including fact sheets, schedules, video and images, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons

or

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/plutotoolkit.cfm

Follow the New Horizons mission on Twitter and use the hashtag #PlutoFlyby to join the conversation. Live updates will be available on the mission Facebook page.

-end-

Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov / laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov

Mike Buckley
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
240-228-7536
michael.buckley@jhuapl.edu

Maria Stothoff
Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio
210-522-3305
maria.stothoff@swri.org

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Karen Northon

Tags:  Moons, New Horizons, Pluto,

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New Horizons

June 12, 2015

M15-093

NASA Announces Television Coverage, Media Activities for Pluto Flyby

NASA is inviting media to cover New Horizons’ historic Pluto flyby in mid-July, including the spacecraft’s closest approach to Pluto on July 14, from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, site of the mission operations center.

Media who wish to cover the events at APL must receive accreditation from the APL Public Affairs Office by June 30. Earlier registration is strongly encouraged, as space is very limited. To apply, and for more information, visit:

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/Media-Registration.php

NASA also will provide comprehensive coverage on NASA Television, and the agency’s website and social media accounts as the spacecraft closes in on Pluto in the coming weeks.

The schedule for event coverage is subject to change, with daily updates posted online and in the New Horizons Media Center at APL. Highlights of the current schedule, all times EDT, include:

June 16, 23 and 30
11:30 a.m. -- Mission Updates

Weekly pre-flyby updates on NASA TV will provide an overview of the New Horizons mission, the spacecraft and its suite of instruments, the July 14 flyby, and a summary of Pluto science to date.

July 7- 12
11:30 a.m. -- Final approach to Pluto; live daily mission updates on NASA TV

July 12
1 - 5 p.m. -- New Horizons Media Center opens at APL

July 13
11 a.m. – noon -- Media briefing: Mission Status and What to Expect. (live on NASA TV)

2:30 – 5:30 p.m. -- Panels: APL’s Endeavors in Space and the latest on New Horizons (no NASA TV coverage)

July 14
7:30 a.m. – Media Briefing: Arrival at Pluto, Inside the Pluto System and New Horizons’ Perilous Path (live on NASA TV)

At 7:49 a.m., the New Horizons spacecraft will make history as flies past Pluto, after a journey of more than nine years and 3 billion miles. For much of the day the New Horizons spacecraft will be out of communication with mission control as it gathers data on Pluto and its moons.

The moment of closest approach will be marked with a live NASA TV broadcast that includes a countdown, a discussion of images and data received thus far, and what’s expected next as New Horizons makes its way past Pluto and potentially dangerous debris. Follow the path of the spacecraft in real time with a visualization of the actual trajectory data, using NASA’s Eyes on Pluto.  

9 a.m. – noon -- Interview Opportunities (no NASA TV coverage)

Informal group briefings and availability for one-on-one interviews. An updated schedule will be posted in the New Horizons Media Center.

Noon – 3 p.m. – Panel Discussions (no NASA TV coverage)

·         New Horizons mission overview and history

·         Pluto system discoveries on approach

·         Mariner 4 and Pluto: 50 years to the day

8 – 9:15 p.m. -- NASA TV program, Phone Home, broadcast from APL Mission Control

NASA TV will share the suspenseful moments of this historic event with the public and museums around the world. The New Horizons spacecraft will send a preprogrammed signal after the close approach. The mission team on Earth should receive the signal at about 9:02 p.m. When New Horizons “phones home,” there will be a celebration of its success and the anticipation of data to come over the days and months ahead.  

9:15 – 10 p.m. -- Media Briefing: New Horizons Health and Mission Status (live on NASA TV)

July 15
Noon – 3 p.m. -- Interview Opportunities (no NASA TV coverage)

Informal group briefings and availability for one-on-one interviews. An updated schedule will be posted in the New Horizons Media Center.

TBD -- Media Briefing: Seeing Pluto in a New Light (live on NASA TV)

Release of close-up images of Pluto’s surface and moons, along with initial science team reactions

New Horizons is the first mission to the Kuiper Belt, a gigantic zone of icy bodies and mysterious small objects orbiting beyond Neptune. This region also is known as the “third” zone of our solar system, beyond the inner rocky planets and outer gas giants.

APL designed, built and operates the New Horizons spacecraft, and manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio leads the science team, payload operations and encounter science planning. New Horizons is part of the New Frontiers Program, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

For more information on the New Horizons mission, including fact sheets, schedules, video and images, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons

or

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/plutotoolkit.cfm

Follow the New Horizons mission on Twitter and use the hashtag #PlutoFlyby to join the conversation. Live updates will be available on the mission Facebook page.

-end-

Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov / laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov

Mike Buckley
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
240-228-7536
michael.buckley@jhuapl.edu

Maria Stothoff
Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio
210-522-3305
maria.stothoff@swri.org

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Karen Northon

Tags:  New Horizons, Pluto,

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Pluto

May 29, 2015

M15-085

NASA to Hold Media Call to Discuss Surprising Observations of Pluto’s Moons

NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 3, to discuss the Hubble Space Telescope’s surprising observations of how Pluto’s moons behave, and how these new discoveries are being used in the planning for the New Horizons Pluto flyby in July.

Participants in the teleconference will be:

·         John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington

·         Mark Showalter, senior research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California

·         Douglas Hamilton, professor of astronomy at the University of Maryland, College Park

·         John Spencer, scientist at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado

·         Heidi Hammel, executive vice president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington

To participate by phone, reporters must contact Felicia Chou at 202-358-0257 or felicia.chou@nasa.gov and provide their media affiliation no later than 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at:

http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

For information about NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

For information about Pluto and NASA’s New Horizons mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons

-end-

Felicia Chou
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-0257
felicia.chou@nasa.gov

Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
410-338-4514
villard@stsci.edu

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Sarah Ramsey

Tags:  Hubble Space Telescope, New Horizons, Pluto,

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New Horizons

May 16, 2015

M15-075

NASA Opens Media Accreditation for New Horizons Pluto Flyby

NASA has opened media accreditation for the New Horizons spacecraft’s historic encounter with Pluto in mid-July.

Media will have the opportunity to cover the New Horizons’ mission, including the spacecraft’s closest approach to the dwarf planet on July 14, from the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland where the mission operations center resides. NASA also will provide comprehensive NASA Television, NASA.gov and social media coverage of the New Horizons mission as the spacecraft closes in on Pluto in the coming weeks. Details of coverage will be released as they become available.  

Following a nine-year journey of more than 3 billion miles, New Horizons will pass approximately 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) above Pluto’s surface. The spacecraft will zip through the Pluto system at more than 30,000 mph (about 50,000 km/h) with the most powerful suite of science instruments ever sent to the outer solar system.

Media who wish to cover the July 14 flyby and other related events that week at APL must get accreditation from the APL Public Affairs Office by June 30. Earlier registration is strongly encouraged as space is very limited. To apply, and for more information, visit:

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/Media-Registration.php

New Horizons is the first mission to the Kuiper Belt, a gigantic zone of icy bodies and mysterious small objects orbiting beyond Neptune. It marks the first direct exploration of the “third” zone of our solar system, beyond the inner rocky planets and outer gas giants.

APL designed, built, and operates the New Horizons spacecraft, and manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio leads the science team, payload operations and encounter science planning. New Horizons is part of the New Frontiers Program managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

For more information on the New Horizons mission, including fact sheets, schedules, video and images, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons

Follow the New Horizons mission on social media, and use the hashtag #PlutoFlyby to join the conversation. The mission’s official NASA Twitter account is @NASANewHorizons. Live updates will be available on Facebook at:

https://www.facebook.com/new.horizons1

-end-

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Mike Buckley
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
240-228-7536
michael.buckley@jhuapl.edu

Maria Stothoff
Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio
210-522-3305
maria.stothoff@swri.org

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Sarah Ramsey

Tags:  New Horizons,

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Solar System and Beyond

May 13, 2015

15-088

NASA Research Reveals Europa's Mystery Dark Material Could Be Sea Salt

NASA laboratory experiments suggest the dark material coating some geological features of Jupiter's moon Europa is likely sea salt from a subsurface ocean, discolored by exposure to radiation. The presence of sea salt on Europa's surface suggests the ocean is interacting with its rocky seafloor -- an important consideration in determining whether the icy moon could support life.

A "Europa-in-a-can" laboratory setup at NASA-JPL mimics conditions of temperature, near vacuum and heavy radiation on the surface of Jupiter's icy moon.

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The study is accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and is available online.

“We have many questions about Europa, the most important and most difficult to answer being is there life? Research like this is important because it focuses on questions we can definitively answer, like whether or not Europa is inhabitable,” said Curt Niebur, Outer Planets Program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Once we have those answers, we can tackle the bigger question about life in the ocean beneath Europa’s ice shell.”

A close-up of salt grains discolored by radiation following exposure in a "Europa-in-a-can" test setup at JPL.

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A salt sample inside a JPL test chamber is bathed in an eerie blue glow as an electron beam scans across it many times each second, delivering a powerful dose of radiation.

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

After tens of hours of exposure to Europa-like conditions, sodium chloride samples turned a yellowish-brown color. The color is spectrally similar to that of dark features on Europa imaged by NASA's Galileo spacecraft.

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A salt sample, baked to a brownish color by radiation, after exposure to Europa-like conditions.

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

For more than a decade, scientists have wondered about the nature of the dark material that coats long, linear fractures and other relatively young geological features on Europa’s surface. Its association with young terrains suggests the material has erupted from within Europa, but with limited data available, the material's chemical composition has remained elusive.

"If it's just salt from the ocean below, that would be a simple and elegant solution for what the dark, mysterious material is," said research lead Kevin Hand, a planetary scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

One certainty is that Europa is bathed in radiation created by Jupiter's powerful magnetic field. Electrons and ions slam into the moon's surface with the intensity of a particle accelerator. Theories proposed to explain the nature of the dark material include this radiation as a likely part of the process that creates it.

Previous studies using data from NASA's Galileo spacecraft, and various telescopes, attributed the discolorations on Europa's surface to compounds containing sulfur and magnesium. While radiation-processed sulfur accounts for some of the colors on Europa, the new experiments reveal that irradiated salts could explain the color within the youngest regions of the moon's surface.

To identify the dark material, Hand and his co-author Robert Carlson, also at JPL, created a simulated patch of Europa's surface in a laboratory test apparatus for testing possible candidate substances. For each material, they collected spectra -- which are like chemical fingerprints -- encoded in the light reflected by the compounds.

"We call it our 'Europa in a can,'" Hand said. "The lab setup mimics conditions on Europa's surface in terms of temperature, pressure and radiation exposure. The spectra of these materials can then be compared to those collected by spacecraft and telescopes."

For this particular research, the scientists tested samples of common salt -- sodium chloride -- along with mixtures of salt and water, in their vacuum chamber at Europa's chilly surface temperature of minus 280 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 173 Celsius). They then bombarded the salty samples with an electron beam to simulate the intense radiation on the moon's surface.

After a few tens of hours of exposure to this harsh environment, which corresponds to as long as a century on Europa, the salt samples, which were initially white just like table salt, turned a yellowish-brown color similar to features on the icy moon. The researchers found the color of these samples, as measured in their spectra, showed a strong resemblance to the color within fractures on Europa that were imaged by NASA's Galileo mission.

"This work tells us the chemical signature of radiation-baked sodium chloride is a compelling match to spacecraft data for Europa's mystery material," Hand said.

Additionally, the longer the samples were exposed to radiation, the darker the resulting color. Hand thinks scientists could use this type of color variation to help determine the ages of geologic features and material ejected from any plumes that might exist on Europa.

Previous telescope observations have shown tantalizing hints of the spectral features seen by the researchers in their irradiated salts. But no telescope on or near Earth can observe Europa with sufficiently high resolving power to identify them with certainty. The researchers suggest this could be accomplished by future observations with a spacecraft visiting Europa.

JPL built and managed NASA's Galileo mission for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, and is developing a concept for a future mission to Europa. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages JPL for NASA.

For more information about Europa, visit:

http://europa.jpl.nasa.gov

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Preston Dyches
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-7013
preston.dyches@jpl.nasa.gov

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Sarah Ramsey

Tags:  Europa (Moon), Europa Mission, Solar System,

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Pluto

April 15, 2015

15-064

NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Nears Historic July 14 Encounter with Pluto

This image of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, was taken by the Ralph color imager aboard New Horizons on April 9, 2015, from a distance of about 71 million miles (115 million kilometers). It is the first color image ever made of the Pluto system by a spacecraft on approach.

Credits: NASA

More Briefing Materials

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is three months from returning to humanity the first-ever close up images and scientific observations of distant Pluto and its system of large and small moons.

"Scientific literature is filled with papers on the characteristics of Pluto and its moons from ground based and Earth orbiting space observations, but we’ve never studied Pluto up close and personal,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut, and associate administrator of the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington.  “In an unprecedented flyby this July, our knowledge of what the Pluto systems is really like will expand exponentially and I have no doubt there will be exciting discoveries."  

The fastest spacecraft ever launched, New Horizons has traveled a longer time and farther away – more than nine years and three billion miles – than any space mission in history to reach its primary target. Its flyby of Pluto and its system of at least five moons on July 14 will complete the initial reconnaissance of the classical solar system. This mission also opens the door to an entirely new “third” zone of mysterious small planets and planetary building blocks in the Kuiper Belt, a large area with numerous objects beyond Neptune’s orbit.

The flyby caps a five-decade-long era of reconnaissance that began with Venus and Mars in the early 1960s, and continued through first looks at Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn in the 1970s and Uranus and Neptune in the 1980s.

Reaching this third zone of our solar system – beyond the inner, rocky planets and outer gas giants – has been a space science priority for years. In the early 2000s the National Academy of Sciences ranked the exploration of the Kuiper Belt – and particularly Pluto and its largest moon, Charon – as its top priority planetary mission for the coming decade.

New Horizons – a compact, lightweight, powerfully equipped probe packing the most advanced suite of cameras and spectrometers ever sent on a first reconnaissance mission – is NASA’s answer to that call.

“This is pure exploration; we’re going to turn points of light into a planet and a system of moons before your eyes!” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. “New Horizons is flying to Pluto – the biggest, brightest and most complex of the dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt. This 21st century encounter is going to be an exploration bonanza unparalleled in anticipation since the storied missions of Voyager in the 1980s.”

Pluto, the largest known body in the Kuiper Belt, offers a nitrogen atmosphere, complex seasons, distinct surface markings, an ice-rock interior that may harbor an ocean, and at least five moons. Among these moons, the largest – Charon - may itself sport an atmosphere or an interior ocean, and possibly even evidence of recent surface activity.

“There’s no doubt, Charon is a rising star in terms of scientific interest, and we can’t wait to reveal it in detail in July,” said Leslie Young, deputy project scientist at SwRI.

Pluto’s smaller moons also are likely to present scientific opportunities. When New Horizons was started in 2001, it was a mission to just Pluto and Charon, before the four smaller moons were discovered.

The spacecraft’s suite of seven science instruments – which includes cameras, spectrometers, and plasma and dust detectors – will map the geology of Pluto and Charon and map their surface compositions and temperatures; examine Pluto’s atmosphere, and search for an atmosphere around Charon; study Pluto’s smaller satellites; and look for rings and additional satellites around Pluto.

Currently, even with New Horizons closer to Pluto than the Earth is to the Sun, the Pluto system resembles little more than bright dots in the distance. But teams operating the spacecraft are using these views to refine their knowledge of Pluto’s location, and skillfully navigate New Horizons toward a precise target point 7,750 miles (12,500 kilometers) from Pluto’s surface. That targeting is critical, since the computer commands that will orient the spacecraft and point its science instruments are based on knowing the exact time and location that New Horizons passes Pluto.

“Our team has worked hard to get to this point, and we know we have just one shot to make this work,” said Alice Bowman, New Horizons mission operations manager at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, which built and operates the spacecraft. “We’ve plotted out each step of the Pluto encounter, practiced it over and over, and we’re excited the ‘real deal’ is finally here.”

The spacecraft’s work doesn’t end with the July flyby. Because it gets one shot at its target, New Horizons is designed to gather as much data as it can, as quickly as it can, taking about 100 times as much data on close approach as it can send home before flying away. And although the spacecraft will send select, high-priority datasets home in the days just before and after close approach, the mission will continue returning the data stored in onboard memory for a full 16 months.

“New Horizons is one of the great explorations of our time,” said New Horizons Project Scientist Hal Weaver at APL. “There’s so much we don’t know, not just about Pluto, but other worlds like it. We’re not rewriting textbooks with this historic mission – we’ll be writing them from scratch.”

APL manages the New Horizons mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Alan Stern of SwRI is the principal investigator. SwRI leads the science team, payload operations and encounter science planning. New Horizons is part of the New Frontiers Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

For more information on New Horizons, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons

and

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu

-end-

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Michael Buckley
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
240-228-7536
michael.buckley@jhuapl.edu

Maria Stothoff
Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio
210-522-3305
maria.stothoff@swri.org

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Karen Northon

Tags:  Dwarf Planets, New Horizons, Pluto, Solar System,

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March 12, 2015

A Record Day for New Horizons

Next exit: Pluto!

After more than nine years in space, on a voyage taking it farther to its primary destination than any mission before it, NASA'’s New Horizons spacecraft is within one astronomical unit of Pluto – meaning it’s closer to Pluto than the Earth is to the Sun.

Speeding along at nearly 33,000 miles per hour, New Horizons sailed past its last symbolic deep space mile marker at about 5:20 p.m. EDT on March 10. An astronomical unit (AU) is the average distance between the Earth and Sun, about 93 million miles or 149 million kilometers. All told, New Horizons' epic journey from Earth to Pluto has covered almost 32 AU — about 3 billion miles.

"This is an amazing project — one that will go down in the history 21st century achievements," said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. "And the history-making is just beginning — in July we reach Pluto, humankind’s farthest exploration shore, to explore it and its fascinating system of moons for the first time!"

Follow New Horizons on its journey to Pluto and beyond.

A Record Engine Burn

The New Horizons mission set another historic marker on March 10, performing the record-distance trajectory correction burn in the history of spaceflight. New Horizons was 2.96 billion miles (4.77 billion kilometers) from the Sun at the time of the maneuver; Voyager 2, the previous record-holder, was approximately 2.8 billion miles (4.5 billion kilometers) for its last engine burn near Neptune in August 1989.

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Tricia Talbert

Tags:  New Horizons,

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New Horizons

March 10, 2015

With Trajectory Correction, NASA’s New Horizons Homes in on Pluto

A 93-second thruster burst today slightly adjusted the New Horizons spacecraft’s trajectory toward Pluto.

This was the first maneuver of New Horizons’ approach phase to Pluto; it was planned to slow the spacecraft’s velocity by just 1.14 meters per second – barely a tap on the brakes for a probe moving about 14.5 kilometers per second – and moved its July 14 arrival time back on schedule with a change from the pre-burn course of 14 minutes and 30 seconds. It will also shift the course “sideways” (if looking from Earth) by 3,442 kilometers (2,139 miles) by July 14, sending the spacecraft toward a desired flyby close-approach target point. The shift was based on the latest orbit predictions of Pluto and its largest moon Charon, estimated from various sources, including optical-navigation images of the Pluto system taken by New Horizons in January and February.

Using commands transmitted to the spacecraft on March 8, the thrusters began firing at 5:15 a.m. EDT, and stopped just 93 seconds later. Initial telemetry later indicated the spacecraft was healthy and fired on command reached the New Horizons Mission Operations Center at APL through NASA’s Deep Space Network at noon EDT; detailed data from the spacecraft’s Guidance and Control system – which will show the team how accurately the maneuver performed as designed – is expected later today.


Short Bursts 
Trajectory Correction Maneuver 15B2

Length: 93 seconds

Result: slowed New Horizons velocity by 1.14 meters/second; delayed Pluto arrival time by 14 minutes 30 seconds; shifted trajectory toward desired flyby close-approach point.

New Horizons approximate distance from Earth: 3 billion miles; 4.8 billion kilometers (32.28 astronomical units)

New Horizons approximate distance from Pluto: 93 million miles; 149 million kilometers (1 AU)

Time for signal to reach Earth: 4 hours, 28 minutes, 31 seconds

Primary communications: NASA Deep Space Network Canberra Station, Australia (70-meter antenna)

Fast Fact: After the maneuver New Horizons entered “spin mode” – a more efficient mode for sending data back to Earth – where it will remain until April 4.

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Tricia Talbert

Tags:  New Horizons, Pluto, Solar System,

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New Horizons

Jan. 16, 2015

15-011

NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Begins First Stages of Pluto Encounter

NASA’s New Horizons is the first mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt of icy, rocky mini-worlds on the solar system’s outer frontier. This animation follows the New Horizons spacecraft as it leaves Earth after its January 2006 launch, through a gravity-assist flyby of Jupiter in February 2007, to the encounter with Pluto and its moons in summer 2015.

Credits: NASA/JHUAPL

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft recently began its long-awaited, historic encounter with Pluto. The spacecraft is entering the first of several approach phases that culminate July 14 with the first close-up flyby of the dwarf planet, 4.67 billion miles (7.5 billion kilometers) from Earth.

“NASA's first mission to distant Pluto will also be humankind’s first close up view of this cold, unexplored world in our solar system,” said Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “The New Horizons team worked very hard to prepare for this first phase, and they did it flawlessly.”

The fastest spacecraft when it was launched, New Horizons lifted off in January 2006. It awoke from its final hibernation period last month after a voyage of more than 3 billion miles, and will soon pass close to Pluto, inside the orbits of its five known moons. In preparation  for the close encounter, the mission’s science, engineering and spacecraft operations teams configured the piano-sized probe for distant observations of the Pluto system that start Sunday, Jan. 25 with a long-range photo shoot.

The images captured by New Horizons’ telescopic Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) will give mission scientists a continually improving look at the dynamics of Pluto’s moons. The images also will play a critical role in navigating the spacecraft as it covers the remaining 135 million miles (220 million kilometers) to Pluto.

Timeline of the approach and departure phases — surrounding close approach on July 14, 2015 — of the New Horizons Pluto encounter.

Credits: NASA/JHU APL/SwRI

“We’ve completed the longest journey any spacecraft has flown from Earth to reach its primary target, and we are ready to begin exploring,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

LORRI will take hundreds of pictures of Pluto over the next few months to refine current estimates of the distance between the spacecraft and the dwarf planet. Though the Pluto system will resemble little more than bright dots in the camera’s view until May, mission navigators will use the data to design course-correction maneuvers to aim the spacecraft toward its target point this summer. The first such maneuver could occur as early as March.

“We need to refine our knowledge of where Pluto will be when New Horizons flies past it,” said Mark Holdridge, New Horizons encounter mission manager at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. “The flyby timing also has to be exact, because the computer commands that will orient the spacecraft and point the science instruments are based on precisely knowing the time we pass Pluto – which these images will help us determine.”

The “optical navigation” campaign that begins this month marks the first time pictures from New Horizons will be used to help pinpoint Pluto’s location.

Throughout the first approach phase, which runs until spring, New Horizons will conduct a significant amount of additional science. Spacecraft instruments will gather continuous data on the interplanetary environment where the planetary system orbits, including measurements of the high-energy particles streaming from the sun and dust-particle concentrations in the inner reaches of the Kuiper Belt. In addition to Pluto, this area, the unexplored outer region of the solar system, potentially includes thousands of similar icy, rocky small planets.

More intensive studies of Pluto begin in the spring, when the cameras and spectrometers aboard New Horizons will be able to provide image resolutions higher than the most powerful telescopes on Earth. Eventually, the spacecraft will obtain images good enough to map Pluto and its moons more accurately than achieved by previous planetary reconnaissance missions.

APL manages the New Horizons mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), headquartered in San Antonio, is the principal investigator and leads the mission. SwRI leads the science team, payload operations, and encounter science planning. New Horizons is part of the New Frontiers Program managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. APL designed, built and operates the spacecraft.

For more information about the New Horizons mission, visit:

www.nasa.gov/newhorizons

and

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu

-end-

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Michael Buckley
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
240-228-7536
michael.buckley@jhuapl.edu

Maria Stothoff
Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio
210-522-3305
maria.stothoff@swri.org

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Karen Northon

Tags:  New Horizons, Pluto, Solar System,

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New Horizons

Aug. 26, 2014

14-228

NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Crosses Neptune Orbit En Route to Historic Pluto Encounter

NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft captured this view of the giant planet Neptune and its large moon Triton on July 10, 2014, from a distance of about 2.45 billion miles (3.96 billion kilometers) - more than 26 times the distance between the Earth and sun.

Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

NASA’s Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft has traversed the orbit of Neptune. This is its last major crossing en route to becoming the first probe to make a close encounter with distant Pluto on July 14, 2015.

The sophisticated piano-sized spacecraft, which launched in January 2006, reached Neptune’s orbit -- nearly 2.75 billion miles from Earth -- in a record eight years and eight months. New Horizons’ milestone matches precisely the 25th anniversary of the historic encounter of NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft with Neptune on Aug. 25, 1989.

“It’s a cosmic coincidence that connects one of NASA’s iconic past outer solar system explorers, with our next outer solar system explorer,” said Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Exactly 25 years ago at Neptune, Voyager 2 delivered our ‘first’ look at an unexplored planet. Now it will be New Horizons' turn to reveal the unexplored Pluto and its moons in stunning detail next summer on its way into the vast outer reaches of the solar system.”

New Horizons now is about 2.48 billion miles from Neptune -- nearly 27 times the distance between the Earth and our sun -- as it crosses the giant planet’s orbit at 10:04 p.m. EDT Monday. Although the spacecraft will be much farther from the planet than Voyager 2’s closest approach, New Horizons' telescopic camera was able to obtain several long-distance “approach” shots of Neptune on July 10.

“NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 explored the entire middle zone of the solar system where the giant planets orbit,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “Now we stand on Voyager’s broad shoulders to explore the even more distant and mysterious Pluto system.”

Several senior members of the New Horizons science team were young members of Voyager’s science team in 1989. Many remember how Voyager 2’s approach images of Neptune and its planet-sized moon Triton fueled anticipation of the discoveries to come. They share a similar, growing excitement as New Horizons begins its approach to Pluto.

“The feeling 25 years ago was that this was really cool, because we’re going to see Neptune and Triton up-close for the first time,” said Ralph McNutt of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, who leads the New Horizons energetic-particle investigation and served on the Voyager plasma-analysis team. “The same is happening for New Horizons. Even this summer, when we’re still a year out and our cameras can only spot Pluto and its largest moon as dots, we know we’re in for something incredible ahead.”

Voyager’s visit to the Neptune system revealed previously unseen features of Neptune itself, such as the Great Dark Spot, a massive storm similar to, but not as long-lived, as Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Voyager also, for the first time, captured clear images of the ice giant’s ring system, too faint to be clearly viewed from Earth. “There were surprises at Neptune and there were surprises at Triton,” said Ed Stone, Voyager’s long-standing project scientist from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “I’m sure that will continue at Pluto.”

Many researchers feel the 1989 Neptune flyby -- Voyager’s final planetary encounter -- might have offered a preview of what’s to come next summer. Scientists suggest that Triton, with its icy surface, bright poles, varied terrain and cryovolcanoes, is a Pluto-like object that Neptune pulled into orbit. Scientists recently restored Voyager’s footage of Triton and used it to construct the best global color map of that strange moon yet -- further whetting appetites for a Pluto close-up.

“There is a lot of speculation over whether Pluto will look like Triton, and how well they’ll match up,” McNutt said. “That’s the great thing about first-time encounters like this -- we don’t know exactly what we’ll see, but we know from decades of experience in first-time exploration of new planets that we will be very surprised.”

Similar to Voyager 1 and 2's historic observations, New Horizons also is on a path toward potential discoveries in the Kuiper Belt, which is a disc-shaped region of icy objects past the orbit of Neptune, and other unexplored realms of the outer solar system and beyond.

“No country except the United States has the demonstrated capability to explore so far away,” said Stern. “The U.S. has led the exploration of the planets and space to a degree no other nation has, and continues to do so with New Horizons. We’re incredibly proud that New Horizons represents the nation again as NASA breaks records with its newest, farthest and very capable planetary exploration spacecraft.”

Voyager 1 and 2 were launched 16 days apart in 1977, and one of the spacecraft visited Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 1 now is the most distant human-made object, about 12 billion miles (19 billion kilometers) away from the sun. In 2012, it became the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space. Voyager 2, the longest continuously operated spacecraft, is about 9 billion miles (15 billion kilometers) away from our sun.

New Horizons is the first mission in NASA’s New Frontiers program. APL manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. APL also built and operates the New Horizons spacecraft.

The Voyager spacecraft were built and continue to be operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The Voyager missions are part of NASA's Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate.

To view the Neptune images taken by New Horizons and learn more about the mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons

For more information about the Voyager spacecraft, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/voyager

-end-

 Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Michael Buckley
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
240-228-7536
michael.buckley@jhuapl.edu

Preston Dyches
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-5011
preston.dyches@jpl.nasa.gov
 

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Karen Northon

Tags:  Neptune, New Horizons, Solar System,

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New Horizons

March 24, 2008

New Horizons Soldiers on

As the New Horizons spacecraft continues its journey, it gives to those of us who are Earth bound breathtaking images of our solar system. In February of 2007, New Horizons passed Jupiter and the ever-active Jovian moon Io. In this montage, Jupiter was captured in three bands of infrared light making the Great Red Spot look white. Complex hurricane-like ovals, swirls, and planet-ringing bands are visible in Jupiter's complex atmosphere. Io is digitally superposed in natural color. Fortuitously, a plume was emanating from Io's volcano Tvashtar. Frost and sulfuric lava cover the volcanic moon, while red-glowing lava is visible beneath the blue sunlight-scattering plume. The robotic New Horizons spacecraft is on track to arrive at Pluto in 2015.

Image Credit: NASA, JHU-APL, Southwest Research Institute
 

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: NASA Administrator

Tags:  Io, Jupiter, New Horizons, Solar System,

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New Horizons

March 24, 2008

Pluto: Past and Future

American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto, the ninth planet in our solar system, on February 18, 1930. Many key questions about Pluto, it's moon Charon, and the outer fringes of our solar system await close-up observations.

A proposed NASA mission called New Horizons, depicted in the artist's concept above, would use miniature cameras, radio science experiments, ultraviolet and infrared spectrometers and space plasma experiments to study Pluto and Charon, map their surface compositions and temperatures, and examine Pluto's atmosphere in detail.

Image Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
 

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: NASA Administrator

Tags:  Dwarf Planets, New Horizons, Pluto, Solar System,

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New Horizons

Oct. 10, 2007

NASA Spacecraft Sees Changes in Jupiter System

LAUREL, Md. - NASA's New Horizons spacecraft provided a new bird's-eye view of the dynamic Jupiter system as it traveled through the planet's orbit on Feb. 28.

New Horizons used Jupiter's gravity to boost its speed and shave three years off its trip to Pluto. Although the eighth spacecraft to visit Jupiter, New Horizons' combination of trajectory, timing and technology allowed it to explore details never before observed.

The spacecraft revealed lightning near the Jupiter's poles, the life cycle of fresh ammonia clouds, boulder-size clumps speeding through the planet's faint rings, the structure inside volcanic eruptions on its moon Io, and the path of charged particles traversing the previously unexplored length of the planet's long, magnetic tail.

"The Jupiter encounter was successful beyond our wildest dreams," said Alan Stern, principal investigator for the New Horizons mission, NASA Headquarters, Washington. "Not only did it prove our spacecraft and put it on course to reach Pluto in 2015, it was a chance for us to take sophisticated instruments to places in the Jovian system where other spacecraft could not go. It returned important data that adds tremendously to our understanding of the solar system's largest planet and its moons, rings and atmosphere."

The New Horizons team presented its latest, most detailed analyses of those data Tuesday at the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Orlando, Fla. Results also will appear in a special section of the Oct. 12 issue of the journal Science.

From January through June, New Horizons' seven science instruments made more than 700 separate observations of the Jovian system. Jupiter's weather was high on the list, as New Horizons' visible light, infrared and ultraviolet remote-sensing instruments probed the planet's atmosphere for data on cloud structure and composition.

Instruments saw clouds form from ammonia welling up from the lower atmosphere. Heat-induced lighting strikes in the polar regions also were observed. This was the first polar lighting ever seen beyond Earth, demonstrating that heat moves through water clouds at virtually all latitudes across Jupiter.

New Horizons made the most-detailed size and speed measurements yet of "waves" that run the width of the planet and indicate violent storm activity below. Additionally, New Horizons snapped the first close-up images of the Little Red Spot, gathering new information on storm dynamics. The spot is a nascent storm about half the size of Jupiter's larger Great Red Spot, or about 70 percent of Earth's diameter.

The spacecraft captured the clearest images to date of the tenuous Jovian ring system, showing clumps of debris that may indicate a recent impact inside the rings or some more exotic phenomenon. Movies made from New Horizons images offer an unprecedented look at ring dynamics, showing the tiny inner moons Metis and Adrastea shepherding the materials around the rings. A search for smaller moons inside the rings, and possible new sources of the dusty material, found no bodies wider than a mile.

The mission's investigations of Jupiter's four largest moons focused on Io, the closest to Jupiter, which has active volcanoes that blast tons of material into the Jovian magnetosphere and beyond. New Horizons spied 11 different volcanic plumes of varying size, three of which were seen for the first time. one, a spectacular 200-mile-high eruption rising above the volcano Tvashtar, provided a unique opportunity to trace plume structure and motion. New Horizons' global map of Io's surface confirms the moon's status as the solar system's most active body, showing more than 20 geological changes since the Galileo Jupiter orbiter provided the last close-up look in 2001.

New Horizons' flight down Jupiter's magnetic tail offered a look at the vast region dominated by the planet's strong magnetic field. Specifically observing the fluxes of charged particles that flow hundreds of millions of miles beyond the giant planet, spacecraft particle detectors saw evidence that tons of material from Io's volcanoes move down the tail in large, dense, slow-moving blobs.

Designed, built and operated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md., New Horizons lifted off in January 2006. The fastest spacecraft ever launched, it reached Jupiter in just 13 months. New Horizons is now approximately halfway between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn, more than 743 million miles from Earth. It will fly past Pluto and its moons in July 2015, then head deeper into the Kuiper belt of icy, rocky objects on the planetary frontier. New Horizons is the first mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program of medium-class spacecraft exploration projects.

For more details on the findings, visit:
 

http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons

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Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Michael Buckley
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
240-228-7536
michael.buckley@jhuapl.edu
 

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Tricia Talbert

Tags:  New Horizons,

Read Full Article

May 1, 2007

New Time for NASA Science Update to Discuss New Horizons Data

WASHINGTON - A NASA Science Update to discuss new views of the Jupiter system has moved to 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday, May 1.

The Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft is returning these images as it flies past the solar system's largest planet during the initial stages of a planned six-month encounter. The update will take place in the NASA Headquarters auditorium at 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 1 at 300 E St., S.W., Washington. The update will air live on NASA Television and be streamed at www.nasa.gov.

New Horizons is using Jupiter's gravity to boost its speed toward the outer solar system while training its cameras and sensors on the giant planet and its moons.

Briefing participants are:
- Alan Stern, NASA associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate, and New Horizons principal investigator, Headquarters, Washington
- Jeff Moore, New Horizons Jupiter Encounter Science Team lead, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
- John Spencer, New Horizons Jupiter Encounter Science Team deputy lead, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo.
- Hal Weaver, New Horizons project scientist, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.

Reporters at participating NASA centers will be able to ask questions. For more information about NASA TV, streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit:
 

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv  

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:
 

http://www.nasa.gov

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Dwayne Brown/Tabatha Thompson
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726/3895

Michael Buckley
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
240-228-7536
 

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Tricia Talbert

Tags:  New Horizons,

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Jan. 12, 2006

New Horizons Prelaunch Webcast, Launch Coverage Set

NASA Direct, Kennedy Space Center's Internet broadcasting network, is featuring a prelaunch webcast of the New Horizons mission. Launch is set for 1:24 p.m. EST Tuesday, Jan. 17 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. online launch and mission coverage can be viewed through the NASA Web portal at:
 

http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons  

Web coverage begins with a prelaunch webcast offering an overview of the New Horizons mission at 3:30 p.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 15. The program includes informative interviews with NASA's launch manager, as well as scientists and engineers from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland and the University of Colorado. Experts also will take part in a question-and-answer session discussing the goals of the missions, as well as science and technology involved in New Horizons.

On launch day, live coverage from the Virtual Launch Control Center starts at 11 a.m. EST Jan. 17, offering continuous updates throughout the launch countdown.

New Horizons Prelaunch Webcast Participants

* Kennedy Space Center Director Jim Kennedy opens the webcast with an introduction to the New Horizons mission.

* Launch Weather Officer Joel Tumbiolo offers a forecast for the latest weather conditions on launch day.

* Omar Baez, NASA launch manager, shares details about the Atlas V rocket preparations and provides a launch countdown overview.

* New Horizons Mission Project Manager Glen Fountain describes the challenges of designing and developing the New Horizons spacecraft.

* Fran Bagenal, co-investigator, discusses the science of the New Horizons mission and the importance of knowing more about Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.

* Mission Systems Engineer David Kusnierkiewicz answers questions about the New Horizons spacecraft and describes its payload of specially designed science instruments.

* Project Scientist Hal Weaver answers questions regarding the science and technical aspects of the New Horizons mission.

* Tiffany Nail, KSC's launch services specialist, hosts the program.

New Horizons Web Coverage Schedule
(All times are subject to change)

Webcast: Sunday, Jan. 15, at 3:30 p.m. EST
NASA Direct webcast from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station: "Mission, Spacecraft, Science and Technology Webcast" at:
 

http://www.nasa.gov/nasadirect  

The NASA Direct question board closes at 11 a.m. EST Friday, Jan. 13. Program guests will answer selected questions submitted by the public. The questions can be viewed online at:
 

http://webcast.ksc.nasa.gov/vidapp/?event=56  

Launch Day Coverage: Tuesday, Jan. 17, starting at 11 a.m. EST
Live countdown coverage from the Virtual Launch Control Center can be found at:

  http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/launch/vlcc.html  

Coverage features real-time updates as countdown milestones occur, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff.

For more information about the New Horizons online events, contact Dennis Armstrong at 321/867-4493.

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Bruce Buckingham
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Phone: (321) 867-2468
 

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Tricia Talbert

Tags:  New Horizons,

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Jan. 12, 2006

Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report

MISSION: New Horizons
LAUNCH VEHICLE: Lockheed Martin Atlas V 551 (AV-010)
LAUNCH PAD: Complex 41
LAUNCH SITE: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
LAUNCH DATE: Jan. 17, 2006
LAUNCH WINDOW: 1:24 p.m. - 3:23 p.m.

 

·         The Flight Readiness Review was successfully completed today at the Kennedy Space Center. The launch of New Horizons remains scheduled for Jan. 17. The White House Office of Science Technology Policy has also given approval for the launch to proceed.





 

·          

·         Final spacecraft closeouts are under way and will conclude Friday, Jan. 13. The payload test team will be conducting spacecraft electrical tests on Saturday, Jan. 14, and the fairing access doors will be closed for flight.





 

·          

·         Rollout of the Atlas V from the Vertical Integration Facility is scheduled to occur at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 16. That afternoon, the storable RP-1 fuel will be loaded aboard the Atlas first stage tank.





 

·          

·         On Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 10:39 a.m., Pad 41 will be cleared of personnel in preparation for cryogenic fueling operations which are scheduled to begin at L-2 hours, or 11:24 a.m.

 

MISSION: Space Technology 5 (ST5)
LAUNCH VEHICLE: Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL
LAUNCH SITE: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
LAUNCH DATE: Feb. 28, 2006
LAUNCH WINDOW: 5:57:21 a.m. - 7:19:21 a.m. PST

 

·         Mating of the Pegasus second and third stage is tentatively scheduled for Friday, Jan. 13. Mating of the first and second stage is currently planned for Jan. 16.





 

·          

·         Pegasus Flight Simulation No. 2 is scheduled for Jan. 25 and 26. Flight Simulation No. 1 was conducted last week and was fully successful.





 

·          

·         ST5 thermal blanket closeouts will be completed today. A limited spacecraft functional test is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 13, when the payload also will be weighed.





 

·          

 

MISSION: Cloud-Aerosol Lidar & Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation/CloudSat (CALIPSO/CloudSat)
LAUNCH VEHICLE: Boeing Delta 7420 with Dual Payload Attach Fitting
LAUNCH PAD: Space Launch Complex 2
LAUNCH SITE: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
LAUNCH DATE: No earlier than February 2006
LAUNCH WINDOW: TBD

 

·         CALIPSO and CloudSat are installed in the Dual Payload Attach Fitting at the Astrotech payload processing facilities on north Vandenberg. They will remain there until a new launch date is determined and then be prepared for transportation to NASA's Space Launch Complex 2. Spacecraft battery charging is being performed as necessary.





 

·          

·         Further Delta II preparations at the launch pad are on hold until the CALIPSO/CloudSat payloads arrive for installation atop the second stage.

 

Previous status reports are available on the Web at:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/launchingrockets/status/2005

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov

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J.D. Harrington
Headquarters, Washington
Phone: (202) 358-5241

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Phone: (321) 867-2468
 

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Tricia Talbert

Tags:  CloudSat, New Horizons,

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Nov. 29, 2005

NASA Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report: E05-019

Mission: Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations and CloudSat
Launch Vehicle: Boeing Delta 7420 with Dual Payload Attach Fitting
Launch Pad: Space Launch Complex 2, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Launch Date: No earlier than mid-February 2006
Launch Window: TBD

Due to the Boeing labor strike and other issues, the earliest possible launch date is in February, 2006. The spacecraft are being prepared for an extended period in the Astrotech payload processing facilities on North Vandenberg.

Starting December 19, the Western Range begins a planned two-month maintenance, upgrade and refurbishment period. Work will be performed on Range Safety tracking facilities, computers and launch support equipment.

While progress has been made on the problems encountered during testing of the Flight Termination System batteries, Boeing has not formally determined and documented a root cause for engineering review. Approximately 15 days are necessary to prepare for launch once all issues are resolved.

Mission: New Horizons
Launch Vehicle: Lockheed Martin Atlas V 551 (AV-010)
Launch Pad: Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Date: Jan. 11, 2006
Launch Window: 2:08 to 4:07 p.m. EST

The Applied Physics Lab team is testing the autonomy software system. The testing is to confirm it would take appropriate safety actions if an unplanned condition occurred after New Horizons is far away from Earth. The scope of the testing was expanded requiring additional days for ground processing.

Encapsulation is six days behind schedule, but the launch date has not changed. Encapsulation of New Horizons into the vehicle fairing is scheduled for Dec. 12; followed by transportation to Launch Complex 41 for mating to the Atlas V on Dec. 16. The fifth and final solid rocket booster was mated to the Atlas V at the Vehicle Integration Facility today.


Boeing's delivery of the third stage to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility is on schedule for Dec. 1. Mating with the spacecraft is scheduled for Dec. 9. Hydrazine fuel for attitude control and course-correction maneuvers is scheduled for loading Dec. 4; followed by a "wet" spin balance test with fuel onboard Dec. 6-7. A tanking test of the Atlas V launch vehicle is scheduled for Dec. 5.

Previous status reports are available on the Web at:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/launchingrockets/status/2005

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/home

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Katherine Trinidad
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: (202) 358-3749)

George Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
(Phone: (321) 867-2468)
 

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Tricia Talbert

Tags:  CloudSat, New Horizons,

Read Full Article

Nov. 16, 2005

Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report

MISSION: Cloud-Aerosol Lidar & Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation/CloudSat (CALIPSO/CloudSat)
LAUNCH VEHICLE: Boeing Delta 7420 with Dual Payload Attach Fitting (DPAF)
LAUNCH PAD: Space Launch Complex 2
LAUNCH SITE: Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), California
LAUNCH DATE: TBD
LAUNCH WINDOW: 5:01 a.m. EST (2:01 a.m. PST)

CALIPSO and CloudSat are installed within the Dual Payload Attach Fitting at the Astrotech payload processing facilities. The payload combination will be placed in an environmentally-controlled canister and installed on the payload transporter for the trip to the launch pad. Delta II preparations at Complex 2 are on hold until the payloads arrive for installation on the second stage. Preparations can resume when the Boeing technicians' strike is resolved.

MISSION: New Horizons
LAUNCH VEHICLE: Lockheed Martin Atlas V 551 (AV-010)
LAUNCH PAD: Complex 41
LAUNCH SITE: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
LAUNCH DATE: Jan. 11, 2006
LAUNCH WINDOW: 2:08 to 4:07 p.m. EST

The bottom portion of the payload fairing was installed this week on the Atlas V. A Launch Vehicle Readiness Review was successfully completed Tuesday. The fit check of the Radioisotope Thermo-electric Generator power system with the spacecraft was performed last week. The generator will be installed for flight at the launch pad. A "dry" spin balance test of the spacecraft will be completed this week. After Thanksgiving, hydrazine fuel for attitude control and course-correction maneuvers will be loaded on the spacecraft and a "wet" spin balance test performed.

For previous status reports, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/launchingrockets/status/2005

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov

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Katherine Trinidad
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-3749)

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
(Phone: 321/867-2468)
 

Last Updated: July 7, 2015

Editor: Tricia Talbert

Tags:  CloudSat, New Horizons,

Read Full Article