Sunday, January 29, 2006

Planet Pluto: Within Our Reach

"Space travel" has a deeper meaning these days. Celebrities and businessmen are dishing out their millions for a trip to space, while mention of space travel agencies and even talk of tourist trips going around the moon starting in 2008 seem to be the wave of the future. But on the other side of the spectrum, scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are looking farther into space -- not to the Earth's moon, but to Pluto and its largest moon, Charon.

While a trip to our moon takes a few days depending upon the spacecraft, the four-billion-mile journey to reach the ninth planet and its moon will take a total of 10 years.

The New Horizons spacecraft, which is the first mission of NASA's New Frontiers program to explore other planets, was launched Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. EST. The spacecraft is controlled by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

Aerospace Engineering Prof. Jim Andary is the Chief System Engineer for the Missions System Engineering Branch at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

"The New Horizons spacecraft was the fastest spacecraft to leave the earth ... it set a record," Andary said."It went past the moon in nine hours."..........

The Cavalier Daily

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