Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Jupiter Flyby This Morning

Well, it's been a year now since NASA launched the "New Horizons" space probe, and finally, this morning at approximately 5:45 a.m. UT it passed about a million miles from the center of Jupiter.  Using the Jovian gravity to increase its speed by almost 9,000 m.p.h., it is now headed out on its way to Pluto.  We all remember our Pluto, cast out of the heirarchy of planets.  But we will always love our small, freezing purple friend, yes?

New Horizons needed its flyby assist from Jupiter to boost its speed on its mission to Pluto, so it could travel at about 50,000 m.p.h., can you picture that on the freeway?  Now that's fast, man.  In fact, it is now the fastest spacecraft in the world (as we know it). 

Yet even at that rate, New Horizons won't reach our cold purple friend until 2015, I wonder if J-Land will still exist.  I know I'll still be keeping a Journal, and I've no reason to believe I won't be here.  Nor you, my friend. 

This stop at Jupiter is actually like a test run so we can study the Jovian system more closely, using newly crafted equipment, very delicate and accurate.  Information and observations collected will assist engineers in making any adjustments, fine-tuning the craft long before it reaches Pluto in 2015.  If all goes as planned, New Horizons will give us the very first extreme close-up pictures of Jupiter and its four largest satellites since the "Galileo" probe of 2003.  It seems like only yesterday we saw those incredible pictures of Jupiter.  This can't last long enough for me, that's a truth.

And another thing, you know the smaller storm, the other "red spot" in the gaseous atmosphere?  You should see the latest pictures of that!  I'll make another entry just to show the picture - if anyone's interested they can see what a telescope can't.  It was taken by Hubble back in April.  Okay, that's the latest from your earth-bound space-stuff correspondent, wishing she were on that craft (along with a few other people).  

Some facts courtesy of Sky & Telescope, & Skywatcher Magazine    



lanurseprn said...

I can't even imagine that craft going that fast. How does it stay together?  You'd think the sheer speed alone break it apart.
Amazing shots.

luddie343 said...

Cathy 2 Pam:  Aren't those pix something?  Yes, it sounds fast but that's using our idea of speed in a gravitationally-ruled world.  If you could miraculously see that craft from earth , it would appear to be standing still.  Lack of gravity helps keep it intact.  It's a bit more involved, think I'll email you!  Thank you stopping by.  :-))

princesssaurora said...

Huh... will I still have my aol journal in 2015... I would like to think so... time flies...  And, yes, i will always love Pluto

be well,

stevietwain said...

Amazing....we're really advancing in the space mission, and it's great. Of course, I believe in the premise set by Star Trek. If it were real, I'd be aboard the Enterprise charting new stars as we!

Amazing picture!

I hope we're all still around in 2015.

To the future!

Lv Ste

luddie343 said...

Cathy 2 Ste:  I can picture you now at your station, charting new star systems, while on earth NASA is naming galaxies after you - "The Stevie Way" hum? lol we can all dream....xoxo

Laurel Kornfeld said...

There is no need to accept Pluto being "cast out of the family of planets." That decision was made by only four percent of the IAU and has been rejected by an equal number of professional astronomers led by New Horizons Principal Investigator Dr. Alan Stern, as can be seen here: