New Horizons probe

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Post  meodingu on Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:14 pm

New Horizons probe

Artist's conception of New Horizons orbiting Pluto
Main article: New Horizons

New Horizons is a NASA robotic spacecraft mission currently en route to the dwarf planet Pluto. It is expected to be the first spacecraft to fly by and study Pluto and its moons, Charon, Nix, and Hydra. Once New Horizons leaves the Solar System, NASA may also approve flybys of one or more other Kuiper Belt Objects.

New Horizons was launched on January 19, 2006 directly into an Earth-and-solar-escape trajectory. It had an Earth-relative velocity of about 16.26 kilometres (10.10 mi)/s or 58,536 kilometres (36,373 mi)/h (10.10 mi/s or 36,373 mi/h) after its last engine shut down. Thus, it left Earth at the fastest launch speed ever recorded for a man-made object (although its specific orbital energy is less than that of Voyager 1, and the Helios Probes retain the maximum speed record for a spacecraft). New Horizons flew by Jupiter on February 28, 2007 and Saturn's orbit on June 8, 2008. It will arrive at Pluto on July 14, 2015 and then continue into the Kuiper belt.

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