Home > Agencies & Organisations, Astronomy, NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration), Pluto, Solar System > Pluto’s Moons And Possible Rings May Be Hazards: New Horizons And The Gauntlet It May Encounter In 2015

Pluto’s Moons And Possible Rings May Be Hazards: New Horizons And The Gauntlet It May Encounter In 2015


NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is now almost seven years into its 9.5-year journey across the solar system to explore Pluto and its system of moons. Just over two years from now, in January 2015, New Horizons will begin encounter operations, which will culminate in a close approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015, and the first-ever exploration of a planet in the Kuiper Belt.

As New Horizons has traveled through the solar system, its science team has become increasingly aware of the possibility that dangerous debris may be orbiting in the Pluto system, putting NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft and its exploration objectives into harm’s way.

“We’ve found more and more moons orbiting near Pluto — the count is now up to five,” says Dr. Alan Stern, principal investigator of the New Horizons mission and an associate vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute. “And we’ve come to appreciate that those moons, as well as others not yet discovered, act as debris generators populating the Pluto system with shards from collisions between those moons and small Kuiper Belt objects.”

Full Story: http://www.swri.org/9what/releases/2012/newhorizons-pluto.htm

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