Image: The journey of New Horizons past Pluto/Charon and on into the Kuiper Belt.
Credit: JHU/APL.

A New Horizons Update


I for one am astounded at the fact that it has been seven years since the launch of New Horizons. The craft, now more than halfway between the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, lifted off on January 19, 2006. I remember my frustration at having hundreds of cable channels on my television and not being able to see the New Horizons launch on any of them. I wound up tracking the event on a balky Internet transmission that, despite freezing up on more than one occasion, still got across the magic of punching this mission out into the deepest parts of the Solar System.

With the flyby at Pluto/Charon in 2015, principal investigator Alan Stern is describing what his team is feeling as ‘the seven year itch,’ a sense of anticipation feeding off the spacecraft’s continued good health along the way. Stern’s latest report is online, noting that the current ‘wake period’ of the spacecraft (New Horizons was in hibernation from July of 2012 until January 6) is proceeding smoothly, including upload of new software. New Horizons goes back to sleep on January 30 and stays under until deep into May, when summer encounter rehearsals begin. We have 903 days until Pluto closest approach.

Read more: A New Horizons Update — Centauri Dreams .

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