New Horizons

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A NASA space probe to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, launched in 2006 January. It swung past Jupiter for a gravity assist in 2007 February, and is due to reach Pluto and its moon, Charon, in 2015 July. The spacecraft will then head into the Kuiper Belt to encounter one or more of its members. New Horizons will photograph these bodies, analyse their surface compositions, and study any atmospheres they may have with the following instruments: the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), a high-resolution camera; Ralph, an instrument which combines the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) and the Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA, a near-infrared imaging spectrometer), to study surface features and composition; Alice, an ultraviolet imaging spectrometer to examine Pluto's atmosphere; REX, a radio-science experiment to probe Pluto's atmosphere and measure its nightside temperature; the Solar Wind Analyzer around Pluto (SWAP), to measure charged particles from the solar wind near Pluto; the Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation (PEPSSI) to search for neutral atoms from Pluto's atmosphere; and a student-built dust counter, SDC, which will count and measure the sizes of dust particles along the craft's entire trajectory.

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/ Official mission website.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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