New Horizons en route to Pluto and beyond! Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

New Horizons en route to Pluto and beyond!
Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

After a voyage that lasted more than nine years, NASA’s New Horizons probe and its flight through the Pluto system last July conjures up feelings of the little spacecraft that could.

Launched back in 2006, New Horizons has “staying power.” The piano-sized probe weighed at liftoff a modest 1,054 pounds (478 kilograms), energized by a single radioisotope thermoelectric generator.

New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, CO., left, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) Director Ralph Semmel, center, and New Horizons Co-Investigator Will Grundy Lowell Observatory hold a print of an U.S. stamp with their suggested update since the New Horizons spacecraft has explored Pluto, Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, CO., left, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) Director Ralph Semmel, center, and New Horizons Co-Investigator Will Grundy Lowell Observatory hold a print of an U.S. stamp with their suggested update since the New Horizons spacecraft has explored Pluto, Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

 

 

New Horizons is slipping through space in great shape, prepared to chalk up even more history in an extended mission mode. If approved by NASA, the craft could eye a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) in January 2019. At that moment the spacecraft will be at a distance roughly a billion miles beyond Pluto. KBOs are small icy bodies that reside in the enormous region of space that begins a billion miles beyond Neptune’s orbit.

Pluto…and beyond! NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld, left, New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, CO, second from left, New Horizons Mission Operations Manager Alice Bowman of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), second from right, and New Horizons Project Manager Glen Fountain of APL. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Pluto…and beyond! NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld, left, New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, CO, second from left, New Horizons Mission Operations Manager Alice Bowman of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), second from right, and New Horizons Project Manager Glen Fountain of APL.
Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

 

 

 

 

The spacecraft remains healthy and continues to spit out data stored on its digital recorders from its fly of Pluto.

I recently sat down with Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from SwRI in Boulder, Colorado, to discuss the historic mission and what lies ahead.

 

Go to this new Space.com story at:

On Pluto Time: Q&A with New Horizons Leader Alan Stern
by Leonard David, Space.com’s Space Insider Columnist
Date: 27 October 2015 Time: 08:00 AM ET
http://m.space.com/30934-pluto-new-horizons-alan-stern-interview.html

 The New Horizons team spells out a token of their appreciation for Pluto encounter supporters at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. Credit: APL


The New Horizons team spells out a token of their appreciation for Pluto encounter supporters at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.
Credit: APL

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