News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

New Horizons Launched to Pluto and Beyond



New Horizons was successfully launched today from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA after previous delays due to high winds and power outages. A slight delay today because of high clouds preceded a picture perfect launch.

At the moment New Horizons is rocketing away from the Earth and will pass the orbit of the moon in just 9 hours, the fastest yet for a space craft. The speed is necessary to get the spacecraft to Pluto in a reasonable amount of time, just under 10 years. In three months, New Horizons will pass the orbit of Mars, and then in a year it will fly by Jupiter and pick up the extra speed it needs to explore the Kuiper Belt region of our solar system. New Horizons will fly by Pluto and its moons in an event that will last just 24 hours in July 2015, snapping images and gathering other data that could revolutionize our understanding of the solar system and planet formation. After Pluto, New Horizons will be targeted toward other Kuiper Belt objects for exploration.

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