[meteorite-list] On Track: New Horizons Carries Out Third KBO Targeting Maneuver
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 2 Nov 2015 16:32:11 -0800 (PST)
On Track: New Horizons Carries Out Third KBO Targeting Maneuver
October 29, 2015
Path to a KBO: Projected route of NASA's New Horizons spacecraft toward
2014 MU69, which orbits in the Kuiper Belt about 1 billion miles beyond
Pluto. Planets are shown in their positions on Jan. 1, 2019, when New
Horizons is projected to reach the small Kuiper Belt object. NASA must
approve an extended mission for New Horizons to study the ancient KBO.
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has successfully completed the third in
a series of four maneuvers propelling it toward an encounter with the
ancient Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, a billion miles farther from the
sun than Pluto.
The targeting maneuver, performed with the spacecraft's hydrazine-fueled
thrusters, started at approximately 1:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 28,
and lasted about 30 minutes -- surpassing the Oct. 25 propulsive maneuver
as the largest ever conducted by New Horizons. Spacecraft operators at
the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland,
began receiving data through NASA's Deep Space Network at approximately
8:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday that indicated a successful maneuver.
The four maneuvers are designed to alter New Horizons' path to send it
toward a close encounter with MU69 on Jan. 1, 2019. The flyby would be
part of an extended mission that NASA still must approve; the New Horizons
team will submit a formal proposal to NASA for that mission in early 2016.
The science team hopes to bring the spacecraft even closer to MU69 than
it came to Pluto on July 14, which was approximately 7,750 miles (12,500
Capping the series, the fourth and final KBO targeting maneuver is scheduled
for Nov. 4. As the New Horizons team learns more about the orbit and location
of MU69 -- the KBO was only discovered in summer 2014 -- it will plan
additional maneuvers to refine the path toward the prospective flyby in
2016 and beyond.
At the time of yesterday's maneuver, New Horizons, speeding toward deeper
space at more than 32,000 miles per hour, was approximately 79 million
miles (127 million kilometers) beyond Pluto and 3.17 billion miles (5.1
billion kilometers) from Earth. The spacecraft is currently 900 million
miles (1.45 billion kilometers) from 2014 MU69. All systems remain healthy
and the spacecraft continues to transmit data stored on its digital recorders
from its flight through the Pluto system in July.
New Horizons is part of NASA's New Frontiers Program, managed by the agency's
Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. APL designed, built,
and operates the New Horizons spacecraft and manages the mission for NASA's
Science Mission Directorate. The Southwest Research Institute leads the
science mission, payload operations, and encounter science planning.
Received on Mon 02 Nov 2015 07:32:11 PM PST