Lost in Space – NASA Arrives at Kuiper Belt


Artist Illistration of New Horizon's Arrival at Pluto[1]

(Artist’s Illustration of New Horizon Arrival at Pluto)

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 Welcome back My Dear Shoevians to The Other Shoe and an all-new edition of ‘Lost in Space’. Now, for the past year this article series has; shared images of far-flung galaxies super nova and nebula, taken us all on a “Tour of Our Solar System’, and to the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud. The Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud… wow… such fond memories… That edition of ‘Lost in Space’ was one of my research and share with all of you, My Dearest Shoevians.

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Today we will return to The Kuiper Belt because NASA’s ‘New Horizon’ spacecraft has reached the border of this most far-flung reaches of our solar system. In case you have not read my edition of ‘Lost in Space – Tour of Our Solar System #4’ the Kuiper Belt is the home of Dwarf Planets like; Pluto, Xena and Sedna. The Kuiper Belt is similar to the Asteroid Belt that separates the inner Terran (rocky crust planets) planets from the outer Jovian (Gas giants). The Kuiper Belt differs, as it is the birthplace of new planets.

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774The conditions within The Kuiper Belt are very similar to those of the rest of our solar system at its birth. Rocks and dust, floating freely in the deep freeze of space, falling prey to chance encounters of gravity and inertia. Throwing bodies together and binding until they create their own gravitational fields, and becoming planets. In another hundred million years, or more new plants could appear in The Kuiper Belt. So far only dwarf planets occupy this violent frozen region of space.

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New Horizon’s Mission Patch

New Horizon’s Mission Patch

[2]

(New Horizon’s Mission Patch)

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Named ‘New Horizons’ the spacecraft launched and the journey started, at 2:00PM Eastern Time using the Atlas V 551 variant from Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida[3]. Five solid rocket motors and the core engine of the Atlas V rocket lifted the spacecraft into orbit at 2:30PM. Escape velocity was obtained with a third stage burn sending ‘New Horizon’ out of orbit and headed to Pluto and The Kuiper Belt at the speed of 36,373 mph.

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New Horizon’s Atlas Lift-Off

New Horizon’s Atlas Lift-Off

[4]

(New Horizon’s Atlas Lift-Off)

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New Horizon has made several near visits in its nine year four billion mile journey from Earth’s orbit to The Kuiper Belt and Pluto and beyond. The first such stop was a near fly-by of asteroid 132524 APL on June 13, 2006. The spacecraft used it RALPH telescope (named ‘Ralph’ after Alice’s husband in television’s ‘ Honeymooners’). When New Horizon’s flight plan brought it closest to the asteroid, 63,297 miles,. Images were taken by both the visible light CCD imager (MVIC- Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera) and LEISA the Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array imaging device. These images are not, yet, available to the general public.

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At this point in New Horizon’s journey the spacecraft shut down most of its systems to conserve energy. Oh, this might be a good time to explain just how New Horizon powers itself. Since the spacecraft’s objective and flight plan would take it more than four billion miles from earth. Solar power was not a viable option as the size of needed solar panels (at the end of mission) would be larger than our lift-off capabilities. It was decided that New Horizon would use a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG).[5]

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New Horizon’s Instrumentation Graphic

New Horizon’s Instrumentation Graphic

[6]

(New Horizon’s Instrumentation Graphic)

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This is the very same electrical generator technology that was used as recently as the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover. It has been used by NASA for decades and has never resulted in a mission disaster or failure. The RTG uses the heat from the decay of plutonium-238 dioxide to fuel a thermoelectric process creating electricity. Voyager 1 & 2 spacecraft, now in interstellar space, both used RTG electrical sources.

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New Horizon’s Interplanetary Cruise Map

New Horizon’s Interplanetary Cruise Map

[7]

(New Horizon’s Interplanetary Cruise Map)

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In the first part of September 2006 NASA sent word to New Horizon to thaw from its deep freeze and awake for hibernation. It was time to start initial work for New Horizon’s fly-by of Jupiter. Shortly after awakening the spacecraft activated the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager aka LORRI to take long-range images of Jupiter. This long focal length imager is designed for high resolution images and to be responsive at all visible wavelengths. New Horizon used KORRI to take these images from a distance of 181 million miles. The spacecraft spent from January to mid-June 2007 observing and imaging the surface of Jupiter.

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[8]

(Jupiter’s Moon Io as seen by Galileo and New Horizon)

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At the end of June, passing the longest possible distance for good imaging of Jupiter, New Horizon was placed back into hibernation. For the next seven years the spacecraft spent the majority of its time in hibernation mode, except for periodically awakening to test system functionality. The flight plan has New Horizon crossing the orbital boundary of Saturn on June 8th, 2008 and cut through the orbit of Uranus on March 18th, 2011.

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It just earlier this month that NASA sent the ‘wake-up’ order, once again, to the spacecraft to make the final 93 second burn aligning it with an orbit around Pluto. New Horizon is scheduled to arrive at the dwarf planet Pluto on July 14h, 2015. This scheduled arrival has NASA and all the scientific community, world wide, chomping at the bit for all the new data and images. This will be the very first manmade object to orbit a dwarf planet and navigated within The Kuiper Belt.

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Searching for the Boundary between Interstellar space and the Heliosphere

Searching for the Boundary between Interstellar space and the Heliosphere

[9]

(Searching for the Boundary between Interstellar space and the Heliosphere)

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This is a major accomplishment for; America, NASA, and mankind as a whole. We must continue our exploration of our solar system and of space. There is no end to the knowledge we will gain about; gravity and gravitational forces, magnetism, planet formation, and even the discovery of new elements. One thing that most people are not aware? IN the 80’s, 90’s and early 21st century we watched as computer processors (CPUs) became faster and faster. First 1GHz, then 2GHz, then 3GHz the major chip manufactures (Intel and AMD) were in a “Speed Race’ to see which company could beat the 4GHz speed limit, break it and sustain.

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Well, both companies achieved the 4GHz speed limit, and could slightly and briefly break that speed. However, it all came to a Big STOP there after. Not known to the general public (the the reason tablets were introduced and desktops were geared back) was that these chip manufactures had hit NOT a speed limit due to design or desire. No, rather, they had hit a limit of ELEMENTS! Both Intel and AMD had many designs for SINGLE CORE processors going 5GHz and 6GHZ and better. Thing was? When built these chips would simply… melt!

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More precisely the insulation materials could not stand up to the heat generated and simply no longer insulated. Everyone was all ready to go up to 5… 6… 7… 87.. 9GHz but mankind simply does not have elements to use as adequate insulators! Mankind needs NEW elements!!! They cannot and will not be found on Earth! So long as we are limited by the current number of elements on the Periodic Table, we will never continue on our Speed Race in computer processors, and that is a terrible shame.

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Flight Plan and Schedule for New Horizon Spacecraft

Flight Plan and Schedule for New Horizon Spacecraft

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(Flight Plan and Schedule for New Horizon Spacecraft)

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Our journey into space is not limited to wonderful images, the thrill of a man walking on another planet’s surface, and the accompanying expansion of technologies. We need to continue, and even accelerate, our exploration and MINING of other planets, asteroids and dwarf planets. It is only through this exploration and discovery that we will advance all technologies and sciences.

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Starting July 14th of this year mankind will take the closest look at the furthest planet in our solar system. This is not just exploration and discovery. This is human evolution in its purest form. New Horizon could show us more about the beginnings of our solar system; give up new facts about gravity and its correlation with magnetism and maybe even give us a glimpse at what lies beyond our solar system.

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As more information and images come in from New Horizon I will share them with you all, My Dearest Shoevians. NASA and the American taxpayer have, once again, brought mankind a little further. Carried us deeper in space and no to the very edge of our solar system. I am confident that for every journey, every dollar, and every endevbour we will reap knowledge that will move us forward as a people and as a nation. Space exploration is an investment! It is a very long term investment, but it always pays off… and one day it will pay off big time and we will find the ‘new element’ that allows our chip manufactures to continue their Speed Race’ to faster and faster computers and processors.

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Pluto and Charon from New Horizon Closest Point Yet!

Pluto and Charon from New Horizon Closest Point Yet!

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(Pluto and Charon from New Horizon Closest Point Yet!)

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Thank you all, My Dear Shoevians, for dropping by and reading this edition of ‘Lost in Space’. I hope that I have peaked your interest, expanded your understanding, and given you plenty of ‘Food for Thought’. This brings to close my publications for this week. Tomorrow, Saturday, I will publish ‘A Week in Review’ and then on Sunday I will publish a very special edition of ‘Sunday Funnies’. It will be ‘A Tribute to Alexander R Hanning’. The star of Sunday Funnies for several years, and my most recent loss. I hope that everyone drops by and checks out his newest videos and my homage to him and his work here at The Other Shoe.

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New Horizon’s Arrival at Pluto – Artist Concept

New Horizon’s Arrival at Pluto – Artist Concept

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(New Horizon’s Arrival at Pluto – Artist Concept)

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Thank you!

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Adieu!

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© 2010 – 2015 Hanning Web Wurx and The Other Shoe

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Author/Editor Danny Hanning in Rolling Hills Estates February 2015

Author/Editor Danny Hanning in Rolling Hills Estates February 2015


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About Daniel Hanning
I am a; writer, editor and publisher. I write, most often, articles about our space program, fun videos andpolitical works. My most recent additions are; A Week In Review, Sunday Funnies and The Adventures of Nadia. Along with The Mars Report and Lost in Space. ENJOY!

One Response to Lost in Space – NASA Arrives at Kuiper Belt

  1. Pingback: Lost in Space – New Horizons Reaches Pluto | The Other Shoe

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