Space News E-mail July 11, 2015
Nearly 9½ years after its launch (which I was lucky enough to see with my family in January 2006) and having traveled more than 3 billion miles from Earth, the New Horizonsspacecraft is ready to give Pluto its first close-up view!
Closest approach occurs on July 14, and it should be fun and exciting to follow along. Keep in mind that New Horizons does not have any brakes, so it will fly past Pluto at high speed, giving it just a few hours to collect its key data as it races along a trajectory on which it will ultimately leave our solar system (hopefully after flying past another icy object of the outer solar system). A few images will be sent back to Earth right away, but it will take about a year and a half to transmit all the data back to Earth.
To follow the excitement, here are three key resources that I recommend:
- Get the NASA app (for computers) “Eyes on Pluto,” which you can read about and download from http://eyes.jpl.nasa.gov/eyes-on-pluto.html. It will show you a simulation of what is happening in real time. I just downloaded it and played around with it a bit myself, and it is pretty awesome. (There’s also a non-NASA phone app called “Pluto Safari,” but I have not tested it.)
- Watch NASA TV (http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/), which will carry numerous updates and live coverage of flyby events, including press conferences at which scientists will share their updates and results.
- And don’t miss this great list of additional resources and background information about the mission prepared by Emily Lakdawalla of The Planetary Society:http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2015/06240556-what-to-expect-new-horizons-pluto.html
Hope you follow along and enjoy the ride. There are not many true “firsts” that occur in exploration, but this will be one of them…
Best wishes to all,
PS. Most of you know that I’m involved with the Story Time From Space project. Besides launching books, the program also created a fantastic set of science demos for the astronauts to conduct in orbit and use to explain science concepts from the books. Unfortunately, these were on board the SpaceX rocket that blew up last week. So now we are in the process of figuring out how to rebuild them, which will require money as well as substantial time. If you’d like to help seed the needed funding, please see the GoFundMe campaign at http://www.gofundme.com/y2e4mb3w%20.
PPS. Quick reminder to look for my Relativity Tour coming to a city near you. More cities are being added, and you can view the current list athttp://www.bigkidscience.com/relativity-tour/. Upcoming events include:
- Los Angeles: July 22 for the Crawford Family Forum. Free admission, but RSVP required at http://www.scpr.org/events/2015/07/22/1735/e–mc2/.
- Honolulu: Aug. 10, 7:30pm at the UH-Manoa Art Auditorium. Free admission.
- Denver: Aug. 27, 7pm, at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Tickets available at http://www.dmns.org/learn/adults/after-hours/what-is-relativity-einsteins-ideas-and-why-they-matter/.
- University of Texas, San Antonio: Sept. 18, 7:30pm, room tbd
- Florida Institute of Technology, Sept. 25, 8pm, Olin Rm EC118
- University of Nebraska – Lincoln: Oct. 2, 7pm, Ruckman Lecture
- University of Arizona (Tucson): Nov. 16, 7pm, Steward Observatory Lecture
Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. — H.G. Wells