Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Destination Pluto: A land ship approaches the confines of the Solar System

Discovered in 1930, we now know that Pluto is the brightest numerous swarm of small bodies that, as a second asteroid belt orbiting the sun beyond the planets. Are so far we know very little about them.
We know they are mostly ice, which are more like comets, asteroids and many short-period comets come from there. You will craters? Will rings? Will rivers of neon, nitrogen geysers? Will one meteorology, polar caps, cryovolcanoes, underground seas?

On arrival at Pluto will be this Tuesday, July 14, 2015. All those who live on the Voyager flyby by each of the major planets, decades ago, we have the same sense of anticipation and intrigue. New Horizons will transmit a few images very compressed few days later. But the remoteness of the scan makes the bandwidth of the communication is very limited.

So New Horizons, which is small but packed with instruments, will not have time to transmit its abundant data as you get them. All photos and measurements choreography will be executed by the robotito memory that will store the data on board and will be sending the Earth when it's all over, over a very long year and a half!

New Horizons will never end: it has enough speed to escape the solar system forever. And because it is so far away and so healthy, it will be redirected to at least a belt object, at least the River Plate, Belt Fernandez should call (and the rest of the world calls Kuiper Belt).

All this is to be decided, but it will take years. The next flyby will not happen before the end of the decade. Beyond that, New Horizons will join the Voyager is exploring before leaving the heliopause into interstellar space.

For those who want to follow the last days of this great journey, I recommend Safari Pluto a free app with news, information, views the trip and Pluto in heaven on Earth. It is available for Android and IOS.

Is hypnotic seeing how the distance shrinks 14 km every second? There is also a cute one-hour documentary, The Year of Pluto, which can be seen on Youtube. And on July 14 in the morning, during the flyby, a special event will be broadcast live on NASA TV, which will reveal the photos from yesterday.

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