Get ready for some cool new info about the smallest planet in our Solar system. The New Horizons spacecraft will now take exactly 365 days from now to make a close encounter with Pluto. Destination will be reached by spacecraft on July 14, 2015. It is for the past eight and a half years, Stern, the principal investigator for NASA’s Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission has been waiting to witness a close encounter that the New Horizons spacecraft is set to make with Pluto next year.
In January 2006 the New Horizon spacecraft left earth to complete 3-billion-mile journey to Pluto and beyond. The spacecraft is about the size and shape of baby grand piano. “The closest any spacecraft had ever been to Pluto was ridiculously far – about a billion miles. And we’ve been within a billion miles of Pluto for years now, so every day we break our own record”, said Stern.
The distance from Pluto will be about 6,000 miles during the closest approach from the New Horizons as said by Stern. The spacecraft going so close to Pluto will be the first time ever in the history of space science. Since there is always a risk of getting pulled into Pluto’s orbit, the distance was calculated very carefully.
Before proceeding to closest approach is set to be made by the unmanned spacecraft, the researchers have already started to get images of Pluto months ago. The quality of the images is so brilliant as never seen before. It takes about four and a half hours for a signal from New Horizons to reach earth.
The spacecraft will enable to collect as much data as possible because of being programmed to be radio-silent on July 14. The spacecraft will be keep going beyond Pluto and into the outer rim of our solar system as there is no issue with the functioning and fuel of the spacecraft.