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Space Science

New Horizons Probe's Images of Jupiter 86

SeaDour writes "The Pluto-bound New Horizons space probe, launched a little over a year ago, recently succeeded in passing through a narrow navigational keyhole by Jupiter. Using the gas giant's tremendous gravity, the craft now has a significant boost toward its final destination, shaving three years off the time it would otherwise spend en-route. As it passed through the Jovian system, the probe took some fantastic images of the neighborhood, including detailed observations of erupting volcanoes on Io, time-lapse photography of Jupiter's tumultuous atmosphere, and the faint ring system that was first discovered in Voyager photography. These new images prove the capabilities of the small probe, which is set to reach Pluto in 2015."
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New Horizons Probe's Images of Jupiter

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  • by absolutely ( 1074008 ) on Monday March 12, 2007 @09:03PM (#18325861)
    And as we all know, it is Jupiters orbital velocity that gives the spacecraft its speed boost, not Jupiter's gravitational field. See: here [].
  • Re:Great! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Karthikkito ( 970850 ) on Monday March 12, 2007 @09:34PM (#18326157)
    From the JPL website:

    "This is the last of a handful of LORRI images that New Horizons is sending "home" during its busy close encounter with Jupiter - hundreds of images and other data are being taken and stored onboard. The rest of the images will be returned to Earth over the coming weeks and months as the spacecraft speeds along to Pluto."

    Wait some time for the high-res...they're more interested in making sure the thing works above all else.
  • Re:Great! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fweeky ( 41046 ) on Monday March 12, 2007 @09:59PM (#18326411) Homepage
    Ralph: A Visible/Infrared Imager for the New Horizons Pluto/Kuiper Belt Mission []

    "MVIC is composed of 7 independent CCD arrays on a single substrate. It uses two of its large format (5024x32 pixel)
    CCD arrays, operated in time delay integration (TDI) mode, to provide panchromatic (400 to 975 nm) images. Four
    additional 5024x32 CCDs, combined with the appropriate filters and also operated in TDI mode, provide the capability
    of mapping in blue (400-550 nm), red (540-700 nm), near IR (780-975 nm) and narrow band methane (860-910 nm)

    You did know that cameras like this take colour shots by merging multiple exposures with different filters applied, right? They're probably using their limited bandwidth to retrieve single exposures from each shot to get a quicker overview of what they've got.
  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Monday March 12, 2007 @10:52PM (#18326853) Journal
    Gravity is definitely involved, of course. However, it is just the "medium" through which the change in momentum is transferred. Jupiter's orbital momentum is reduced by the amount same amount as momentum gained by the satellite. Since momentum is a function of mass and velocity, and since neither the mass of Jupiter, nor of the probe is changed, the satellite's velocity boost comes at price of Jupiter's orbital velocity. So the original poster is correct.
  • Re:It's both, really (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Monday March 12, 2007 @11:15PM (#18327083)
    If Jupiter didn't exhibit a strong gravitational pull on the probe, it wouldn't be able to have a significant impact on the probe's orbital velocity.

    If Jupiter were not moving w/r/t the sun and the probe, the probe's velocity w/r/t the sun would be no greater after the flyby than before.

    The way I see it, both gravity and orbital velocity are necessary components of the gravitational slingshot, so it's fair to say that it's a combination of the two that give the spacecraft its speed boost.
  • Re:the waiting game? (Score:4, Informative)

    by David Jao ( 2759 ) <> on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:48AM (#18327953) Homepage

    So how much money did it cost to pull staff off other projects and put em on this Jupiter diversion? Is it really economical to pop by just to pick up 3 years? It's not like there's a time to market here.

    There is a deadline here, and the deadline is a natural one. Right now Pluto is near its perihelion, which means it is (just barely) warm enough to have an atmosphere. There are many many things you can learn scientifically from an atmosphere. However, if the space probe takes too long to arrive at Pluto, the atmosphere will be gone by the time it gets there. In that case, we'll have to wait a cool 200 years before Pluto comes around to perihelion again.

    Quoting []:

    Scientists believe that as Pluto continues its 248-yearlong orbit around the sun, its tenuous atmosphere eventually will freeze and collapse to the surface. Pluto has been racing away from the sun since its closest approach in 1989 and scientists do not know how much time remains before Pluto's atmosphere collapses. Once that happens its atmosphere is not expected to re-emerge for about 200 years.

    "Some people think its 20 years off and some people think its five years off," said Stern. "No one really knows when Pluto's atmosphere will snow out and collapse."

  • Re:Great! (Score:3, Informative)

    by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @09:57AM (#18331371) Journal
    If you're going to criticize the cost of the mission, perhaps you should put a more informed number to it: $650 million over some 15 years [].

    Relax, that's only moderately expensive as interplanetary probes go. Cassini-Huygens will top out at around $3.5-4 billion over the whole mission. The wildly successful Mars Exploration Rovers, especially since their mission has been extended much longer than expected, are about $1 billion. Mariner 4, the first probe to do a flyby of Mars (a significantly less-sophisticated mission), was about $100 million in 1960s dollars. $650 million is about as much that's lost to graft, corruption, fraud, and bribes in Iraq each month.

    Aside from the probes that we have lost outright, the probes that have reached their destination intact have yielded mountains of data and plenty of pretty pictures. There will be much more data coming back to earth from the flyby in the coming weeks. But keep in mind that, over the vast distances and relatively weak signal from New Horizons, the connection is fairly low-bandwidth. By the time of the Pluto flyby, you can expect that it will takes months or years to download the full dataset. So, please, have some patience.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson