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Space Science

NASA Chooses Pluto Mission 139

Posted by michael
from the midnight-train-to-georgia dept.
CheshireCatCO writes: "NASA announced on Thursday that it has selected Alan Stern's Pluto mission proposal, named New Horizons, for phase B study and (hopefully) eventual launch in 2006. Alan is himself one of the top experts on Pluto, and his team consists of many other leaders in the field. It should be a good mission, if only they get the money for it." CNN has a story with some background on the mission. NASA is having a hard time deciding whether the Pluto-Kuiper Express is actually going to launch or not.
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NASA Chooses Pluto Mission

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  • Pluto sucks (Score:1, Funny)

    by dustman (34626)
    Of all the characters in the Evil Empire, Pluto sucks the most.

    Studying Donald Duck would be much more enlightening.
  • Ice on Charon? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by leucadiadude (68989) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @06:00PM (#2644450) Homepage
    I'm hoping they can get this thing luanched. If there really is ice on Charon, and it's actually water ice, that would make a lot of neat stuff (read manned missions) possible way out there.
    • why would we go all the way to pluto for water? its a hell of a lot closer to just goto Jupiter and get some of the water off Europa. A manned mission to pluto would really be a long way off. At the moment America would refuse to send one even to moon. I think it would be a much better use of our money if we sent more probes to mars.
      • Re:Ice on Charon? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by leucadiadude (68989)
        You are right of course for the near term. And I agree with you about Mars.

        But what about when we want to get into the van Oort cloud? We'll need water to make cheap rocket fuel as well as for life support systems.....
      • Re:Ice on Charon? (Score:2, Informative)

        by kabloie (4638)
        One problem with Europa (and all the Jovian moons to some extent) is that the surface is bombarded with radiation from the monsterous Jovian radiation belts. You'd have to get submerged pretty quickly to live on Europa very long. If there indeed is a ocean underneath.
      • I think it would be a much better use of our money if we sent more probes to Mars.

        But we've already had half a dozen or so successful Mars probes. We know quite a lot about it. We know nothing, by comparison, about Pluto. Isn't it worth just one little probe to go have a look?

        Additionally, if I understand the problem, is that Pluto is near its closest approach to the Sun (and thus the Earth) at the moment. If we don't do the mission now, it'll be much more difficult when Pluto has moved further away in 2030 or so.

        • Compared to all the other things in our solar system, why is Pluto all that interesting? Its appeal seems about more pop interest than science: which was also the only thing preventing it from being downgraded from planet status in the first place.
      • I think it would be a much better use of our money if we sent more probes to mars.

        I think it would be a much better use of our money to get rid of poverty, famine, disease, suffering, etc. from our planet.

        • I think it would be a much better use of our money to get rid of poverty, famine, disease, suffering, etc. from our planet.

          You mean like the trillions that the US alone has spent on government programs since The New Deal? Yeah, that's worked a treat, hasn't it?

    • Re:Ice on Charon? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by isomeme (177414)
      There's water ice on Pluto, Charon, and indeed just about all the larger outer-planet moons. Water ice is pretty much ubiquitous on solid objects far enough from stars. It's made of two of the commonest elements, after all.
      • by fm6 (162816)
        Somebody better tell the Kazon [startrek.com]. Not to mention the Visitors [enqueue.com]!
        • Yeah, but the Visitors were lying about wanting water - what they really wanted was to eat all the tasty humans. Quite why it never occurred to anybody that wanting water was pretty unlikely I'm not sure (though they did have scientists declared enemies of the state early on).

          I also thought it was established that the Kazon were a bunch of bloody idiots.
      • by MaufTarkie (6625) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @07:13PM (#2644665)

        It's made of two of the commonest elements, after all.

        Water ice is made up of hydrogen and stupidity? You learn something new every day. Thanks, Slashdot! ;)

    • We're really desperate if we're going to spend a several year long ride to get water.
    • Agreed. Ice on Charon would help us clear a major hurdle on the road to building our first Howard Johnson's on Pluto.
  • The fundemental problem with NASA is that they throw all their money into dead-ends like the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (both projects are just for show and have yet to produce any tangible benefits), instead of focusing on the type of hard core science research that will make the Warp Drives and Transporters a reality before I'm too old to pass the Starfleet physical. If NASA doesn't get their ass in gear, I'm going to have to focus on my other calling as a Jedi Knight.

    --
    My Favorite Slashdot Poll of All Time [slashdot.org]
    • No benefits, eh?

      Programs such as the ISS and the space shuttle give NASA a chance to figure out what to expect on these long term missions (medically with their astronauts and physically with their equipment), not to mention allow them to increase their skills as engineers (we don't want a Mars mission's shuttle to explode somewhere in between).

      There are many, many benefits to the space shuttle and ISS.
    • As much as I want to agree with you, getting my grant money from NASA science and not from the ISS for STS, I can't completely agree. NASA's mission isn't simply space exploration. Look at the name: National Aeronautics and Space Administration. They gave a range of duties, from helping push technology in aviation, communications and related fields. I'll grant you that the STS and ISS are sucking money something awful, but they are part of NASA's mission.
    • Well at least Jedi Knights are a recognized religion in British Census forms.
  • Propulsion (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nil5 (538942)
    It will be really interesting to see what sort of propulsion system they choose to get there, given the extraordinary distance that will have to be covered. I bet they'll choose some sort of ion-drive, or related thing.

    Does anyone know how long it will take to reach Pluto? I would think a few years, but of course that's just a guesstimate.
  • by LazyDawg (519783) <lazydawg AT hotmail DOT com> on Sunday December 02, 2001 @06:02PM (#2644453) Homepage
    We'll probably only ever get to see the one Pluto Probe get launched in the next 20 years, which is a shame, because redundancy is the best way to reduce cost/benefit ratios in a NASA mission.

    The odds for a long duration mission like this to the far reaches of our solar system are pretty slim, and once you make one Pluto Probe it is a lot cheaper to make *many* Pluto Probes.

    What do you think the odds are there will be even a Pluto II?
    • Really, I don't think there is much to see there compared to mars, moons of jupiter and saturn. The only reason to go there when there is so much to learn in the near bodies seems to be the fact that pluto is comparitevly near to sun right now, and it won't be there for the next hundered years (I thought a pluto year is much longer, why should a planet that far go that fast?)

      Kuiper belt is a lot more interesting though. NASA is downplaying it possibly because they will fit the craft mainly for pluto-charon system and won't be able to do much about the belt.

  • If I had a say ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rolo Tomasi (538414) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @06:15PM (#2644498) Homepage Journal
    ... in space exploration policy, I would concentrate all efforts to building an observatory on the moon. The Hubble Telescope has a 2.6m mirror and revolutionized astronomy. Just imagine what an 8m telescope on the far side of the moon could discover. Also, radio astronmy is becoming more and more difficult, because of the "radio pollution" on earth. A radio telescope on the far side of the moon, screened from all man-made interference, could bring us a tremendous amount of new insights. Just my $0.02 ...
    • I completely agree...

      The ONLY benefit of doing a pluto mission is that its the furthest "planet" from the Earth (at certain points in its orbit).

      We need to concentrate on either the Moon or Mars, possibly the moons of Jupiter to establish truely beneficial exploration.

      Pluto, in my opinnion, at this point in time is a worthless rock. NASA should spend their money on more beneficial studies.
    • Another good idea is to have launches done on the moon; however, NASA is a broken government agency and will probably never have enough money to do such things. Not to mention NASA isn't proper to government and should be privatized, which seems as though it could be on the agenda, as NASA has said it is considering selling space shuttles.
      • Privatized?!

        You mean, the same way VA Linux ran for years as a very open company until it couldn't afford it, and changed its name to VA instead?

        You mean, the same way Apache has been picked up by a corporation and the publically available version is an old version of the codebase that the commercially available version is. (Recalling from memory...can't find the info anywhere.)

        You mean, the way that slashdot, Sourceforge, Freshmeat, kuro5hin, Linux.com and all the rest of the OSDN network is run by corporation that recently purged their namesake from its name?

        If NASA was privitized, every new technology it contracts for development could be monopolized, and advancements in the industry would be under constant threat!

        Every company involved in technology advancement that I've ever heard of has patented their inventions, and not all of them license those. Those that do often do so at high prices, stifling derivitive works. This is why we have copylefts for those advancements made by civilians.

        It's a precedent set by Edison. He hired hundreds of inventors and patented all their results. Those results weren't often used until afterr the patents ran out, as Edison charged a bundle for licenses.

        I'd really prefer this not to happen to the one majorly funded civilian organization that freely gave us things like Mylar and aerogels.
    • what an 8m telescope on the far side of the moon could discover

      Just imagine... a Beowulf cluster of these!

      heh, couldn't resist)
      • We already have clusters of radio antennas/dishes...

        Turns out that a large number of smaller dishes over a large range is roughly equivalent to one much larger dish, in terms of being able to tell where a signal came from.
    • I would concentrate all efforts to building an observatory on the moon.

      How do you know there isn't one already there?
    • by junkgrep (266550)
      Just so people know, because some are already getting it wrong, you should emphasize that the point of putting the scope on the far side of the moon is NOT because that side is "dark." It is NOT dark (is the side always facing us always "light"? Nope.). The point is, as you said, to partially screen it from interference coming from from Earth.

      In fact, if we did put a scope on the far side of the moon, we'd probably need to build into it some way to block off it's lens and shield all it's sensitive components for when it was in direct sunlight. This would actually probably be the most expensive feature about such a scope: needing to close up for protection so often means a lot of wear and tear over thime.
      • In fact, if we did put a scope on the far side of the moon, we'd probably need to build into it some way to block off it's lens and shield all it's sensitive components for when it was in direct sunlight. This would actually probably be the most expensive feature about such a scope: needing to close up for protection so often means a lot of wear and tear over thime.

        That would only be once every 28 days instead of every few hours the hubble is now circling around the earth.
        • Hunh? The scope on the moon gets sun more often than once every 28 days... though I suppose it depends on exactly where you put it. But it would have to be fairly close to the near side, because you'd need to have some way of sending the information back to earth: and signals dont travel well through the moon.
          • The moon has about a 14 earth-day-long day and a 14 earth-day-long night.

            If you put the observatory in a crater, that would extend the night. There's no atmosphere, so as long as the sun isn't shining directly on the optics, you're OK. However, there's still infrared interference; you'd want to have a double (or more) wall anyway. If you used a typical slitted dome, you could do observations away from the sun even in the daylight.

            So really, the thing could be used to some extent every day of the year.
            • ---There's no atmosphere, so as long as the sun isn't shining directly on the optics, you're OK---

              Yep: one of the real benefits of being farther out in space: minimal to no scattering of light.

              ---If you used a typical slitted dome, you could do observations away from the sun even in the daylight.---

              Good point! Though there still is the control issue: what would be the cheapest and best way to send signals back to earth, considering that half the point is our sheilding the scope from interference in the first place?
              • Good point! Though there still is the control issue: what would be the cheapest and best way to send signals back to earth, considering that half the point is our sheilding the scope from interference in the first place?

                you could put a "satellite" dish just over the "horizon". Since there is no atmosphere on the moon, you should be able to reach the Earth as long as you have a line of sight to it. Better yet, as seen from the Moon, the Earth doesn't move. Then you just run a cable, or set up microwave relays out to the observatory.

                I wonder if we would need to send people up there from time to time though for maintanance
    • How in the heck would you transmit data to Earth from an observatory on the far side of the Moon? A selenosynchronous orbit obviously wouldn't work. Probably the best way would be to set up a series of repeaters on the moon's surface going out to the far-near line, but you're talking about a lot of repeaters.

      Granted, such a set-up would be pretty cool to have. However, we could plan such a mission any time we like. A Pluto mission has to happen now, or else it won't happen for another 600 years. (Or more likely, we'll be sending actual people there by then.)
  • I'm always Puzzled on how someone can be an 'expert' on something we've never really seen, poked and proded.
    I can understand that we can be fairly sure about atmosphere / crust composition from spectral analysis, but surely "leading theorist" would be a more correct term for those of us who study that which we have never sampled?
    • I said Alan was an expert, not an authority. He knows quite a lot about Pluto. And there is a lot we can learn from Earth: we know it's mass (pretty well, to within around 5% or so), we know it has a large moon. We know it spins on its size, and that it has an atmosphere. We know it's orbit and we know that this orbit is in a 3:2 mean motion reasonance with Neptune. That's a fair number of facts right there (there are more). At that point, you can start to say a lot about Pluto and where it might or might not have come from.

      But Alan Stern's word is not the final word on anything Pluto related. He, and any of us, is capable of being wrong. But he's known as more knowledgable than almost anyone else, making him an expert.
    • by freeweed (309734) on Monday December 03, 2001 @03:45AM (#2646484)
      I'm always Puzzled on how someone can be an 'expert' on something we've never really seen, poked and proded


      Ask any priest, rabbi, reverand, etc, etc, etc...


      :)

  • $100m is nothing to these guys really... more is wasted on marketing AOL cds.
  • by cperciva (102828)
    What, exactly, does it take to be an expert on Pluto? Does knowing everything ever discovered about it count?

    In that case we're almost all experts on Pluto, because almost nothing is known about it.
  • NASA has selected a proposal to proceed with Phase B (preliminary design studies) for a Pluto-Kuiper Belt (PKB) mission...

    I had always thought that PKB stood for "Pot, Kettle, Black."

  • I recall one of the jupiter missions get some shots of mars on it's way out. But I suppose the orbits of the outer planets wont allow for killing two birds like this.

    Is there someone who can explain the trajectory? There must be some sort of "window", (presumably, we're about to miss it) which won't reopen for hundreds of years, right?

    • Flybys (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fm6 (162816) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @07:16PM (#2644678) Homepage Journal
      Some previous discussion of the trajectory issue here [slashdot.org]. The big lost opportunity for flybys was the "Grand Tour" [uiowa.edu] mission. Would have had to launch in 72 or thereabouts. Bad timing -- that was just when the public felt glutted by space missions, columinating with the showy, but not demonstratively useful, Apollo project.
      • Thanks. Better late than never, it seems. I wonder if we'll see the result, heh, but we gotta take the shot. NASA will get ten years to speculate, and keep things interesting, as well.
      • Ever notice how most little kids start out with Velcro shoes?

        Ever give a Mylar baloon to your parents for their Anniversary?

        Thanks, Apollo.
        • You forgot teflon. As for mylar, I prefer old-fashioned baloons.

          Look, I said demonstrable benefits. Sure, Apollo had benefits, but try to convince Joe Taxpayer that it was worth all that money. If we had spent that money on some long-term goal, like fully-reusable orbiters or a permanent space station, we'd have something you could point to and say, "that is where your money went". Instead, we went with a project that created billions of dollars worth of use-once hardware, and wasn't the basis of any further accomplishments. A few useful but unsexy technical breakthroughs don't make up for that.

          If you want laceless shoes and non-stick cooking, then I guess Apollo was a success. But if you want a solid foundation for further space exploration, Apollo was a total waste of money.

        • Not sure what any of that has to do with Apollo since velcro was developed by a Swiss engineer during the 1950s [straightdope.com] and Mylar was invented by Dupont in 1952 [dupont.com].
    • by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @07:53PM (#2644821) Homepage
      I can't think of any Mars flybys on a Jupiter mission. Galileo did a flyby of Earth and Venus (there's a really nice image of the Earth and Moon from Galileo, and Sagan detected life on Earth from Galileo, much to everyone's relief). It also flew by Ida, an asteroid, and discovered its moon, Dactyl. But I can't think of any Mars passes.

      It turns out that you can go to Pluto any year (or probably any month) that you like. Larry Esposito (who had the competing proposal, which was regarded as extremely good, too) shared this with me a few months ago. Apparently, a Venus assist can get you to Pluto, and are availible a lot. But New Horizons is using a Jupiter assist that won't happen nearly as often. I'd guess that the next chance would be roughly 12 years later, when we're more or less aligned the same way again.
  • If NASA starts concentrating on Pluto now, I can't imagine where the Mars Society [marssociety.org] crackpots will setup their formica space station [msnbc.com] to train for the planet's environment.
  • by localroger (258128) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @07:04PM (#2644621) Homepage
    When I was a kid there was nothing but artists conceptions (most of which turned out to be wrong) to illustrate what the surfaces of other planets looked like. Now the only one totally left in mystery is Pluto, and it's one of the last great mysteries of our generation to know, as we do of all the other planets, what they look like up close.

    Besides which, every time we investigate a new world we learn wonders. Water on Europa! Hydrocarbons on Titan! Rings around Neptune and even (chuckle) Uranus! Young worlds cracked and not fully reformed, worlds of live volcanoes, worlds whose geological processes always seem to come back and illuminate our own, either its current dynamics or its history.

    Computer models are not substitute for real experience. And the only source of reale experience is another real world. We have a limited number of these close at hand, and it would be foolish not to explore them all.

    As the most distant "world"-sized body Pluto likely holds many secrets to the early history of the Solar System, and to forces at work on our own world during its formation. If nothing else we should investigate it for being the only other dual planet worth the name in the Solar System (besides, of course, Earth-Luna.)

    • and it would be foolish not to explore them all.

      Would it? I mean sure, plutos a curious little thing, but except for the aforementioned deep-space launch site, what else is there? Resist quoting JFK to me right now, please. And remember it's getting farther away...

      A Pluto mission, or any new "deep" (can I get another troll, please?) mission will perpetuate NASA for 10 more years. You either like that, or you dont. Do we give 'em one more chance, fellas and gals? Whaddya say?

      • by localroger (258128) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @08:53PM (#2645000) Homepage
        Me:and it would be foolish not to explore them all.

        Imrdkl: Would it?

        OF COURSE IT WOULD! Consider all the folks who think the Apollo missions were a foolish waste of time. Well, from Apollo we learned that the Moon was once molten, that it has no metallic core, and that its crust is similar to that of Earth. All these things have informed the history of Earth, from which the Moon was probably knocked off in a chance encounter early during her coalescence.

        From Mars missions we have learned enough to recognize Martian meteorites, thus getting free extra samples for analysis.

        From Jupiter and the other outer planets we have learned that geology is much more complex and unpredicatable than we once thought; in my childhood books these worlds were always described as cold, rocky, silent, and gray, kind of the way Pluto is still described. (You'd think we'd learn.)

        The thing about Pluto is we only think we know what we'll find there. So far we've always been wrong about that. Outer Solar System objects are the only direct, unsullied links we have to conditions as they were before the inner planets formed and all the components got mixed up and distilled. Even so one must wonder; was Pluto once molten? Was Charon knocked off of it as our Moon once was, or was it just captured? The similirity between Earth/Luna and Pluto/Charon is itself enough to warrant investigation. What seems like an incredible chance event might be more likely than we think, making the "Rare Earth" hypothesis less "rare." The key is that we don't know what we'll find. One thing we can say with great confidence is that it will actually be a surprise if it is a boring cold sphere of inert frozen crap like my circa 1970 Jr. Science book said.

        • I perceive this as pure science and the longing for knowledge, and therefore good. But keep in mind that 1/2 inch of dust was also discovered on the moon, much to the surprize of them who made the 8ft. landing pads for the Eagle.

          But I am willing to invest in the continued careful search for more knowledge. (Although it's a crapshoot just to get a good flyby, at that distance, yes?)

          • But keep in mind that 1/2 inch of dust was also discovered on the moon, much to the surprize of them who made the 8ft. landing pads for the Eagle

            WTF are you talking about? They knew roughly what sort of *SURFACE* to expect from the Surveyor landing probes. Have you even seen a pic of the Eagle? The landing pads weren't 8' deep... I'm not even sure they were 8' across. The contact probes may have been 8' long, but that was to give a few seconds warning before touchdown.
            • Yea, it was late. But localroger got plenty of karma for his/her insightful replies. I also regret slighting such a well regarded reply. I shant diverge thusly again in Science

              I still say a pluto mission is a crapshoot, tho. Accelerating via Jupiter instead of the Venus doesn't make me feel good, either. It feels political.

            • He didn't say the pads were 8' deep. He said they were 8ft landing pads, meaning diameter. Kind of like big snow shoes. They expected a lot more dust than they found. The reasoning was that they thought they knew how much dust settles on the moon each year and they thought they knew how long the moon has been there, so they did some math and figured out that there should be a lot of dust, hence the big pads so the lander would settle onto the top of the dust rather than sinking. Turns out that the dust was only a 1/2 inch thick or so, meaning either that it doesn't accumulate as fast as they thought, or that the moon is on the order of only several thousand years old. Bottom line is that we discovered something different than we expected, which, I'm sure, has caused people to rethink a few things about the moon.
  • by vaguelyamused (535377) <jsimons@rocketmail.com> on Sunday December 02, 2001 @10:06PM (#2645213)
    The Pluto-Kupier Express needs to be developed and launched soon. There are two main reasons for this: 1) The launch window for setting a trajectory for Pluto that uses Jovian gravity assist lies between 2004-2006. This could signifigantly shorten the time it takes the probe to reach Pluto which could significantly effect the next reason. 2) Pluto is currently heading away from the perihelion in its abort, thus is headed away from the Sun (and Earth). As Pluto heads away from the sun the surface temperature decreases and the atmosphere progressively condenses, freezing to the surface of the planet. Planetary scientist are very anxious to study its atmosphere in a gaseous state, it is predicted to be completetly frozen by 2020. As Pluto takes 248 years to revolve around the sun it will be a LONG time before it's gas again.
    • As Pluto heads away from the sun the surface temperature decreases and the atmosphere progressively condenses,

      Actually, it seems that we're moving away from this prediction with more current models of Pluto's atmosphere. It does not seem likely that the atmosphere freezing out is a real concern, anymore.

    • Planetary scientist are very anxious to study its atmosphere in a gaseous state, it is predicted to be completetly frozen by 2020. As Pluto takes 248 years to revolve around the sun it will be a LONG time before it's gas again.
      *sigh* I have the sinking feeling that by the time a probe is approved and launched, Pluto will be unfrozen again.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Alan Stern is the PI, and a damn good mission leader. The probe will be built and operated by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory - Those nice folks who built NEAR, got it to that small lump of rock called Eros, had a misburn but were smart enough to have a recovery plan in place, orbited a little late and took good data, and just for the hell of it managed to land on the damn thing.
    If the funding holds out - we'll get there, on time and under budget.
  • Pluto is far and away the most boring of all of the planets. In fact, according to many scientists it isn't a planet at all, but rather an asteroid. Why are we wasting this much time and energy on a little rock in an eccentric orbit just because we (mistakenly) call it a planet? Pluto is SMALLER than EUROPA, less interesting, and a lot farther away. Let's go to Europa instead. Europa is one of the most interesting places in the solar system... A moon of ice with possible liquid oceans. It's truly an awesome place. I propose that NASA should bag the pluto mission and do this one [seds.org] instead.
    • Pluto is not an asteroid according to any planetary scientist. Asteroids are rocky or metallic and found generally within 5 AU of the Sun. Pluto is icey and averages 40 AU from the Sun. It is generally agreed to be a Kuiper Belt Object and some of us, myself included, object to its status as a major planet. But it's not really a point we argue about much, because it doesn't matter.

      However, being small doesn't make it uninteresting. Witness all the missions that flew to comet Halley. Or to Borelly. And to the asteroid Eros. Pluto (and the one or two other KBOs that New Horizons will visit) are examples of a population of bodies we have not yet been able to study. They provide valuable clues about the formation of out solar system and about its overall present nature.

      In short, if you do a modicum of research, you come to realize that we are not going there because it is called 'planet'. We're going there because it is an interesting object.

      On the other hand, the Europa mission probably won't fly even if New Horizons does not either. The current Europa mission is just too expensive. Congress has put a price cap on total outer solar system mission expenses of $1 billion. Right now, we can't do a Europa orbiter for less than $1.22 billion (figures from Colleen Hartmann, the new director of the Office of Space Science at NASA). We can't get Europa either way, so don't make it sound like it's even a choice. Perhaps in 5 years Europa will be more feasible, but it isn't now.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...we need to get our monkey asses to Mars. Hell, there are Ghosts there(ghosts of mars), aliens(mission to mars), 4 titted prostitutes(total recall), humans with small people embedded in their chests(total recall), alien nuclear reactors, and all sorts of fun things to discover and enjoy. Why send another goddamn satellite out looking at other planets when we can party it up with martian meta-whores? Mr. Scientist needs to get out more.
  • It actually has a chance of working. JHU/APL also did the work on NEAR [jhuapl.edu] the satellite that crashed landed on Eros and still worked afterwards.
  • great news, but if they find anything interesting, it will be covered up like usual. I'd rather see more data released about the planets and moons near us.
  • When are they going to send a probe to Uranus?
  • A web site now exists at http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/ [jhuapl.edu]

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