LAUNCH: JANUARY 19,2006.
VEHICLE: Atlas V 551 first stage, Centaur second stage, STAR 48B solid rocket third stage.
LOCATION: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station , Florida.
PATH: To via Jupiter gravity assist.
REASON FOR STUDY:
There are 2 main reasons why they wanted the mission to start early. They are Since 1908, Pluto has been moving faraway from the sun by which it gets colder and finally freezes out as per reports. So they wanted to study about it as early as possible. The other reason is that Pluto and Charon never sees sun in decades as it will be shadowed by “artic nights” which leads to inability of taking pictures.
By launching on Jan 2006, it took the advantage of a gravity assist from Jupiter. Then it passes Jupiter and ended upon Pluto on July 14,2015. During this course of time observed studied KUIPER BELT OBJECT(KBO) by which the space craft could fly further after reaching Pluto. Basically KBO are icy bodies that orbit beyond Neptune.
EARLY ENCOUNTER: The first encounter included space crafts checkouts, rehearsals for Jupiter encounter. New horizons passed the orbit of mars on April 7,2006, it also tracked a small asteroid which was later names as APL on June 2006.
JUPITER ENCOUNTER: Closest approach on Feb 28, 2007. New orbiter flew about three to four times closer to Jupiter than the Cassini space craft.
INTERPLANETARY ENCOUNTER: Activities during these eight years included trajectory corrections, instruments check outs and Pluto encounter.
During this course, new horizons also crossed the orbits of Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
In Jan 2015, it entered first of several approach with first close up fly by of Pluto on Jan 14,2015.The space craft came about 7750 miles from Pluto and about 17900 miles from its largest moon, Charon.
BEYOND PLUTO – KUIPER BELT:
New horizons are designed to fly beyond Pluto system and explore Kuiper belt. It carries extra fuel for KBO fly by. Its system can work far beyond Pluto and even work in dim light conditions. In 2014, new horizons team members found 3 KBO with a billion miles beyond Pluto. In 2015, it also worked with NASA on a small KBO named as 2014 MU69, which is also a billion miles beyond Pluto. NASA also accepted the proposals for the extended mission by new horizons.
New horizons passes Pluto in 28 Feb, 2007. It was the eighth space craft to explore Jupiter and discovered various details that no probe has ever did before such as lighting near planets pole, structure inside volcanic eruption on moon and several other things. The Jupiter system was constantly monitored as it was always changing and new horizons was in the correct position and time to have an eye on it. Apart from that, new horizons also captured clear image of tenuous Jupiter ring system. New horizons spied on 11 different volcanic plumps of varying sizes, three of which were seen the first time. It also spotted infrared light of at least 36 volcanos and also measured lava temperature of over 1900 degree Fahrenheit.
PLUTO SYSTEM REAVELED:
This it turned out to be a new beginning, revealing for the first time the potential complexity of the Kuiper belt. Pluto was revealed to be a geologically and meteorologically active world. As of now, Pluto remains the physically largest world in the Kuiper belt. Pluto’s atmosphere was measured by New Horizons UV solar and radio occultations. The relativities and surface compositions of Pluto’s small moons are quite different from most Kuiper belt objects in their size class, which are much darker and spectrally featureless, but are consistent with being debris from the giant impact that created the Pluto-Charon binary at the beginning of solar system history.