tech2 News StaffJul 14, 2015 17:05:12 IST
After a long nine and a half year journey, travelling over 4.7 billion kilometres, Nasa's aptly christened New Horizons spacecraft is bringing the first close-up view of Pluto. Today, it will be at its closest distance – at about 12,500 kms – from Pluto giving us a view of the otherwise difficult to see planet.
You can also watch a live webcast on NASA TV as New Horizons zooms in closest to the dwarf planet at 7:49 a.m. EDT Tuesday (roughly 5.19 PM IST).
You require a telescope to view Pluto, and it was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh on February 18, 1930. Not a lot is known about Pluto, since it was discovered only 85 years ago, while it takes 248 years to orbit the Sun. Effectively, we know Pluto for just about one-third of its orbit time. We only discovered today that Pluto is close to the size of our Moon!
The image above is an artist’s concept of the New Horizons spacecraft as it approaches Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. The craft's miniature cameras, radio science experiment, ultraviolet and infrared spectrometers and space plasma experiments will characterise the global geology and geomorphology of Pluto and Charon, map their surface compositions and temperatures, and examine Pluto's atmosphere in detail. The spacecraft's most prominent design feature is a nearly 7-foot (2.1-meter) dish antenna, through which it will communicate with Earth from as far as 4.7 billion miles (7.5 billion kilometers) away.
As the New Horizons spacecraft begins its most-awaited day today to reach the closest to Pluto, users will be able to watch it right from their homes with NASA’s Eyes on Pluto app.
Eyes on Pluto is within NASA’s Eyes visualization program, and will let users explore space through simulations built with real NASA spacecraft data. In Live mode, users will be able to watch a computer-generated visualization of New Horizons approaching Pluto along with its system of tiny moons. It will look as if you are on your trip on the New Horizons. The app also allows users to study Earth from space through the eyes of Earth science satellites, explore the Solar System, and more.
iOS users can also download the New Horizons: a NASA Voyage to Pluto app. This app brings you inside this historic voyage, from the New Horizons spacecraft and its science instruments, to the latest news and pictures, to education programs and activities.
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