Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Horizons, Dawn, and the Super Bowl

Spacecraft New Horizons and Pluto
The New Horizons Spacecraft: launched by NASA in January 2006, is approaching the dwarf planet Pluto. Last month, the probe woke up from a very long nap designed to save reduce wear and tear and lower operational costs along the nearly 3 billion mile journey. 

The probe sent a weekly signal back to Earth, and is woken up every six to 10 months to assure that it is still operational. New Horizons will also visit Pluto’s largest moon Charon and a few other objects in the Kuiper Belt. The closest approach will take place in July. 

Spacecraft Dawn and Dwarf Planet Ceres
Four other space probes have traveled as far out into the solar system as New Horizons, including Voyager I and Voyager II. It will be the first space probe to make a close approach of Pluto, coming within 7,767 miles of the surface. 

New horizons will continue on past Pluto and into the Kuiper Belt which is an unexplored asteroid-rich region of our solar system that might have thousands of small, icy, rocky planets similar to Pluto. Studying the Kuiper Belt could offer scientific insight into how our solar system formed. 

2015 is shaping up to be a spectacular year for astronomy. In march the spacecraft Dawn will approach the dwarf planet Ceres

Super Bowl: New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. I’ll go with the Patriots because Tom Brady went to the University of Michigan. It’ll be interesting to see the Vegas odds and the over under. 

Finally: I posted a Robin Williams video on the previous post. If you need a good laugh, take a couple minutes to view it.