Feb 282007


Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | King of the planets will propel probe to Pluto

Today, NASA’s New Horizons space probe, the fastest spacecraft to have ever left this planet, hits the solar accelerator in a big way. As of 15:43 Australian Eastern Standard Time, New Horizons will be travelling just over 23,000 kms/second as it slingshots past the Jupiter system, using the giant planet’s gravity well to propel it to the edges of our solar system. Yet, even at that speed, which seems so incredibly quick to we Earth-bound watchers, Pluto and the Kuiper Belt objects, which are New Horizons’ ultimate destination, remain some 26.3 AU distant.

New Horizons current location with respect to the ecliptic

We can achieve mighty feats, we human beings, yet we seem completely unable to see the train wreck of our own fast approaching future. As a technological species, we must surely be the ultimate paradox.