Thursday, July 16, 2015


My last post called  2015: SPACE ODYSSEY. PART 8th. I summarized how spectacular the mission was . It's by all standards of technology an amazing feat by NASA . All the scientists do deserve praise for even getting a piano sized probe out 3 billion miles . I love pretty much seen all the NASA missions over the two decades , as each spacecraft landed or flew by a planet . Namely growing up , I saw the Voyager 1, 2 missions , starting in 1979 we saw our first glimpses of Jupiter , then came Saturn in 1981 and in 1986 Uranus and finally Neptune in 1989. The grand tour of the outer solar system was done . There is one mission that is ongoing for note . This is the Cassini -Saturn Mission which right now is NASA's biggest and costly . The Presumed price tag for Cassini was a billion dollars , and its the largest orbiting probe ever sent to a planet . It's almost the size of a school bus . This mission shared some of the costs with the ESA (European Space Agency ). Back in 2005 the Cassini probe piggy backed a small lander named Huygens  to the surface of Titian a planet sized moon , it landed and briefly survived the frigid surface long enough to take pictures . The Mars rovers are grand missions , and more rovers will be sent to Mars to 2020's for a grandiose sample return . These missions for me are worth my tax dollars . Campaigners have calculated that it costs $0.15 per American per year for the New Horizons mission. BUT I am a little BUMMED out on the Pluto mission . First its remarkable that the Pluto probe made it out there soo quickly , yes , it zipped by so fast that in 4 hours it was already a million miles past Pluto white the NASA scientists on Earth waited for the scientific information to come in .New Horizons is collecting so much data it will take 16 months to send it all back to Earth. Yes, it needs to actually *transmit* all the photos! New Horizons has a very limited data transfer rate - again due to serious practical constraints - and will be transmitting its data for weeks after passing by Pluto & Charon. YET we will still have to wait for the data to come in according to top NASA scientists . So, it seemed to me that the mission is a flop already . Yes , I can argue that we
made IT to Pluto . My problem is that NEW HORIZONS is heading out into a void probably never to encounter anything . This would mean that the probe will have it's camera's turned off . There is nothing to look at out there , unless you aim the spacecraft on a different trajectory to another dwarf planet , the mission was a waste of money in the sense .  I had a friend tell me that NASA had years to plan the mission to settle in an orbit around Pluto . Yes YEARS!, they just did not want it to orbit Pluto , but do a bullet shot mission that had no breaks to slow down.
 New Horizons did not carry enough fuel to go into orbit around Pluto..... what he told me was that the NASA scientists were vary "nervous" about this mission , one of the planners was worried that it would collide with some debris , and we would not  know it . Because the probe was zipping bye so fast that NASA scientists were pacing around JPL hoping that 700,000,000 $ won't just blow up in outer space . Yet NASA had it's excuses . NEW HORIZONS was to explore the *** Kuiper Belt out beyond Pluto . I wished that they put NEW HORIZONS in orbit around Pluto , even if it was not so scientifically possible , I still believe that there was so much more to learn from the Pluto system that the quick shot approach to this kinda of space exploration ruined a great space craft.

*** KUIPER BELT:  sometimes called the Edgeworth–Kuiper belt, is a region of the Solar System beyond the planets, extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun.[2] It is similar to the asteroid belt, but it is far larger—20 times as wide and 20 to 200 times as massive. The NASA space probe is now racing away from Pluto at around 30,800 miles per hour, looking back at the dwarf planet and its moons to take images as it does so.Yet New Horizons could be about to travel even further into the unknown by becoming the first spacecraft to visit the icy blocks encircling our solar system in a ring of debris called the Kuiper Belt. New Horizons is to continue travelling out to the edge of the solar system, but scientists hope to persuade NASA to allow them to alter its direction to send it towards one of two icy objects in the Kuiper Belt - a ring of debris that surrounds our solar system. The spacecraft, which will be the first to make such a journey, visiting one of these mysterious objects Depending on its fuel levels, the spacecraft would fly past either MT69, a 37 mile (60km) wide object or MT70, a 47 mile (76km) wide object, sometime between January and March 2019. Still we don't have a clue what's out there . That's why I am musing that NEW HORIZONS was better off orbiting Pluto as mankind's farthest outpost . So if makes it out there by 2019 , MT69 and MT70 orbit around four billion miles from the Sun - 44 times further out than the Earth. Other than believing MT70 is larger than MT69 and also brighter, scientists know little else about these objects. Yet like it has already with Pluto, New Horizons could
provide our first close up look at these icy places on the edge of our solar system and perhaps reveal new information about how our solar system formed. 
The simple reason is that New Horizons can’t make a stop at the Pluto-Charon system. It’s a constraint that has as much to do with engineering as it does with basic physics. To get New Horizons into Pluto’s orbit, mission planners would have to reduce its speed by over 90%, which would require more than 1,000 times the amount of fuel the probe can carry. That’s a technologically unfeasible proposition. And so, the probe will have no choice but to zoom past Pluto, feverishly snapping pics and taking measurements before being flung outward towards the Kuiper belt. But knowing we will probably NEVER send another probe to Pluto, why not give it a try? At least an impact Huygens-type probe!


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