Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now Join Now!

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

   Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

New Horizons now aimed directly at Pluto

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

25-09-2007 20:08 CDT

Topics: New Horizons, mission status

This afternoon Alan Stern posted to that New Horizons has successfully completed the trajectory correction maneuver that lines the spacecraft up for its July 14, 2015 encounter with Pluto. This is the first firing of the thrusters since before the encounter with Jupiter, and it is also the last such maneuver that it will perform before it has to re-target to a Kuiper belt object.

Just think about that: we're still almost eight years away from the Pluto system encounter, and New Horizons is already aimed right on target. The navigation team deserves some credit for this but I think that greater credit goes to the immutable laws of physics and the people who figured out the right mathematical equations to use to describe those laws, going all the way back to Newton.

And we can't forget the usually unsung heroes of the giant dishes of the Deep Space Network and their operators, without whom we wouldn't know anything about planetary missions -- neither science nor engineering data, and certainly not the ultra-accurate and precise position and velocity information about the spacecraft that you need to know in order to target a flyby eight years before it happens. Those dishes are in very serious need of overhauling and upgrading -- Alan, if you're reading this, I hope that's one of the things you're working on over there at NASA Headquarters. Upgrading the DSN is just about as politically exciting as repairing road bridges. Please, please, please don't let it take the catastrophic collapse of one of the 70-meter antennas to finally light a fire under the tail of Congress and NASA to fund necessary repairs to the DSN!

DSS-43, the 70-meter antenna at Canberra


DSS-43, the 70-meter antenna at Canberra
DSS-43 is the largest steerable antenna in the southern hemisphere. Originally built to a diameter of 64 meters in 1973, it was expanded to 70 meters in 1987. It can transmit signals in the X and S radio bands and recieve signals in the X, S, L, K, and Ku bands. It can operate safely in winds up to 72 kilometers per hour, and is built to survive winds of up to 160 kilometers per hour.
See other posts from September 2007


Or read more blog entries about: New Horizons, mission status


Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search


Our Curiosity Knows No Bounds!

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Us

Featured Images

Finding jets in the September 19, 2014 NavCam image of comet 67P

NavCam view of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko on September 19, 2014
Mars Orbiter Mission at Mars
Capture the flag
More Images

Featured Video

View Larger »

Fly to an Asteroid!

Travel to Bennu on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft!

Send your name

Join the New Millennium Committee

Let’s invent the future together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!