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The spacecraft team that brought us close-ups of Pluto will ring in the new year by exploring an even more distant and mysterious world. One billion miles beyond Pluto and an astounding 4 billion miles from Earth 1. No spacecraft has visited anything so primitive. Image: NASA. It flew past Pluto in , providing the first close-up views of the dwarf planet. With the wildly successful flyby behind them, mission planners won an extension from NASA and set their sights on a destination deep inside the Kuiper Belt.
A Window Into Pluto, and Hopes of Opening Other Doors
ONE girl laughed out loud and motioned to her friend to look — and she also reacted by putting her hand over her mouth to stifle a giggle. And all around us, diners, mid-mouthful were clattering their cutlery as they rested it on the side of their plates, to stare. It could have been the fact that there were so many of us being steered to a table in the middle of the restaurant. Or it could have been because we all had our names written on a white sticky label stuck to our front.
Lucy Kissick examines the origins and significance of the names approved for Pluto’s surprisingly varied surface. When Clyde Tombaugh discovered a wandering star beyond Neptune in , he saw little more than a pinpoint of light through the telescope of the Lowell Observatory. The planet was formally named Pluto later that year, after some debate. Suggested names ranged from the reasonable — Roman deities such as Minerva or Atlas — to the contentious: Constance Lowell, the widow of Percival Lowell whose endowment and observatory made its discovery possible, demanded the object take her late husband’s name, then her own.
Pluto, the slighted brother of Neptune and Jupiter who dwelt far from the Sun in the underworld, was a perfect fit. The debate over the alleged demotion of a planet to this apparent lesser status enlivened the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union IAU , the body responsible for maintaining definitions and naming systems across astronomy. On 14 July , NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft figure 1 sped past Pluto at closer than 12 km, the first human-made object to approach such a distant body; in doing so it transformed Tombaugh’s point of light into a world.
The mission was a blazing success: from its conception in , through launch in , to nine years during its voyage through interplanetary space, New Horizons exceeded all mission goals and reached Pluto, making headlines across the Earth from almost 5 billion km away. Though only the size of a grand piano, this elegant spacecraft became what the Voyager probes had been almost three decades before: a new form of explorer and a symbol of what humankind can achieve.
As New Horizons streaked past Pluto, sending back a wealth of images, a new discussion arose: when you discover your point of light has mountains, ice sheets and even ice volcanoes, how do you name them? Humans have long named places.
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Pluto Schools Wikipedia Selection. Orbital Speed 4. Orbital Speed 6.
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December 27, The spacecraft team that brought us close-ups of Pluto will ring in the new year by exploring an even more distant and mysterious world. One billion miles beyond Pluto and an astounding 4 billion miles from Earth 1. That’s what makes this deep-freeze target so enticing; it’s a preserved relic dating all the way back to our solar system’s origin 4. No spacecraft has visited anything so primitive. Lead scientist Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, expects the New Year’s encounter to be riskier and more difficult than the rendezvous with Pluto: The spacecraft is older, the target is smaller, the flyby is closer and the distance from us is greater.
NASA launched the spacecraft in ; it’s about the size of a baby grand piano. It flew past Pluto in , providing the first close-up views of the dwarf planet. With the wildly successful flyby behind them, mission planners won an extension from NASA and set their sights on a destination deep inside the Kuiper Belt. Ultima Thule is in the Twilight Zone’s heart. Officially known as MU69, it got the nickname Ultima Thule in an online vote.
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Researchers have found that the bigger the group of potential mates to choose from the more likely individuals are to make a decision based on looks and sex appeal alone. This is because their mind blanks at the choice and they revert to basic instincts, scientists believe. In primates and birds, the larger the group, the better the chance that non-dominant individuals have of being chosen as a mate. Alison Lenton at the University of Edinburgh, and her team looked at whether this is true for people too.
Speed-daters race through a series of “mini dates” of about five minutes then invite whoever catches their fancy to get in touch again later.
Do you live on Mars? Hey baby, are you made up of dark matter? Are you the moon? Hey baby, mind if i send my probe into your wormhole? Is that a telescope in your pants or are you just happy to see me? Hey girl, are you the sun? Hey girl! Let me orbit around that ass. Are you an exoplanet? How about you let me take you to the Planetarium? We can learn about astronomy then afterward maybe I can explore Uranus. Hey beautiful! Your face is like a moon. Always glowing.
NASA’s New Horizons to fly into the New Year studying a distant rock beyond Pluto
In just about a year, the New Horizons spacecraft will begin daily observations of the dwarf planet Pluto. A month later, on 14 July , the piano-sized kilogram probe will fly by Pluto at a nominal distance of only 10, kilometers moving at a velocity of 14 kilometers per second. At that speed and distance, New Horizons will briefly return images of Pluto in which objects as small as 50 meters wide could be visible.
Pluto was discovered in , during Lowell Observatory’s hunt for a planet beyond Neptune. The observatory, founded in by wealthy Bostonian Percival Lowell to find proof of intelligent life on Mars, had begun its search for a trans-Neptunian planet in The search for Planet X as Percival Lowell dubbed his hypothetical world was at least partly motivated by the growing disdain with which Lowell’s Mars theories were greeted by professional astronomers.
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Part of Russian Pres. Putin announced his country has developed and recently tested a cruise missile and an underwater drone that are nuclear-powered as well as hypersonic missiles capable of flying at up to 20 times the speed of sound. For the West, the prospect of Russia having all three of those new weapons is unsettling to say the least. But the nuclear-powered cruise missile, in particular, harkens back to a weapons system the U.
Air Force began developing at the height of the cold war and later abandoned. The Pentagon tested prototype engines with megawatt reactors at the Department of Energy Nevada Test Site in and , but soon after had second thoughts about the project. Project Pluto was going to use a ramjet engine to draw in air at a supersonic speed, use a nuclear reactor to heat the air to get it to expand, and then use that expanded air to generate thrust.
So the U. Would the U. Based on the plan for the U. The reactor would presumably not have any lead or concrete radiation shielding, because that would have made the missile too heavy. Such an unshielded missile would have generated a very intense flux of neutrons, so simply being in close proximity to it would have been lethal. The missile would have drawn air from the outside, heated it to a very high temperature with direct contact with nuclear fuel and then expelled the air.
So fission products and radioactive particles would continuously be expelled into the environment.
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I sat there in the darkened room, palms sweating. He looked at me from across the table, his lips quivering. He looked at me sternly in the eyes and uttered the words I was too scared to answer. What is your name? After a semester of failed Tinder matches and a string of nightclub pulls that my mother would certainly not be proud of, I had decided to use the summer as a way of finding something a little more sophisticated and long term.
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Pluto explorer ushering in new year at more distant world
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