Monday, April 03, 2006

Monday Space Blogging: So Long, Inner Solar System!

by Tom Bozzo

In case any of you haven't been obsessively following its 10-year trajectory to everyone's favorite Kuiper Belt object, a quick check on the position of the New Horizons spacecraft shows that it is (as of this writing) just about to pass the orbit of Mars. Mars itself is not nearby — eyeballing the display, it looks to be about a fifth of a Martian year behind New Horizons.

Next year's Jupiter encounter will be another matter, as ol' Jove is to give our scrappy probe a considerable shove towards its final destination. The pace of orbit crossings then will, of course, slow down dramatically, as outer outer solar system distances are only an taste, yet a substantial mouthful relative to terrestrial space probing, of Douglas Adams's famous disquisition on the bigness of space.
I read this post while the family was sitting, enthralled, before this old news. Is it too early to start looking forward to the New Horizons NOVA?
Not at all!! I'm not sure what science is scheduled for the encounter, but I'd think the Jupiter rendezvous could provide some NOVA fodder before the mid-teens.
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