24 votes
Accepted

How much longer would New Horizons take to reach Pluto without the Jupiter slingshot?

It was said in here that the time to reach Pluto was shortened by 3 years. It's also said that after the Jupiter flyby the probe gained ~ 4 km/s accelerating to the speed of 23 km/s relative to the ...
OON's user avatar
  • 1,684
20 votes
Accepted

How tall are Pluto's mountains? Are they the tallest ice features in the Solar System?

How tall are these things? Are they made of ice? Are they the tallest things on Pluto? Are these the tallest ice features in the Solar System? "New close-up images of a region near Pluto’s ...
ceejayoz's user avatar
  • 1,278
14 votes

How much longer would New Horizons take to reach Pluto without the Jupiter slingshot?

Depending on the time of launch, there were 4 different major plans for the NH mission profile. The first 3 involved Jupiter flybys, and would have an arrival date of 2015, 2016, or 2017. The last was ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
10 votes

How "locked" are Pluto and Charon? How much does each librate as seen from the other?

Here's the result obtained with NAIF's SPICE library: The graph shows the azimuth and the elevation of Charon as seen from an observer on the surface of Pluto with position: latitude = 45° and ...
Cristiano's user avatar
  • 1,760
8 votes

Compounds causing the various colors on Pluto's surface?

One type of compound that can cause the reddish coloration is tholins, described in Wikipedia. An abstract of a study of these tholins on Pluto has been published by Harvard University. Tholins are ...
Oscar Lanzi's user avatar
  • 8,505
7 votes

How "locked" are Pluto and Charon? How much does each librate as seen from the other?

Here is a paper with information on Pluto and Pluto's moons. I believe much of the info comes from the New Horizons mission. S. A. Stern, the P.I. for New Horizons, is listed as lead author. Here's a ...
HopDavid's user avatar
  • 15.8k
6 votes

What would happen if an Apollo astronaut landed on Pluto?

The boots of the Apollo astronauts experienced temperature swings from 355 K in the sun to 166 K in the shade. There were no reports of temperature problems in regards to the suits and/or footwear, ...
Brooks Nelson's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Exoplanet(s) that share orbit?

Two planets sharing their orbit is expected to be a rare configuration. Most configurations of 2 planets in 1 orbit are unstable. Only when one planet is in a Lagrange point of the other, are the ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
6 votes

If we could send an orbiter to the Pluto-Charon system, could we put it in a stable orbit?

Let us try to see what happens if we place the satellite in an orbit with and altitude of about 320 km over Pluto, so we get above most of the atmosphere, and get a nice round number for the orbital ...
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Just how steep are Pluto's tallest ice mountains?

In Pluto, There are notably two big icy mountain ranges namely, Tenzing montes Range and other one is Hillary montes range, both have respectable mountain peaks ranging upto 6.2 Kilometers and 3.5 ...
Kavin Ishwaran's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Was there any launch vehicle possible that could have been used for a heavier New Horizons with enough fuel to enter Pluto orbit? (adding ~10 years)

The answer to question 1 will come from the chosen trajectory's arrival $V_\inf$ (hyperbolic excess velocity). The answer to question 2 will come from the chosen trajectory's launch $C3$ (...
BrendanLuke15's user avatar
5 votes

Was there any launch vehicle possible that could have been used for a heavier New Horizons with enough fuel to enter Pluto orbit? (adding ~10 years)

New Horizons had a launch mass of 478 kg, of which 77 kg was propellant, but only around 47.5 kg of that was for course changes, with the rest reserved for attitude control. New Horizons was launched ...
JanKanis's user avatar
  • 541
5 votes
Accepted

What is the meaning of: New Horizons' communication rate at 1kbit/s between the probe and Earth?

The rate is the maximum data rate from New Horizons to Earth, assuming the 70m dish is being used, and there isn't significant data loss. See this article from the Planetary Society.
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
4 votes

If we could send an orbiter to the Pluto-Charon system, could we put it in a stable orbit?

Totally by accident I've just happened to run across the 2014 open access paper A peculiar stable region around Pluto with the abstract below. The purpose of the paper was to see if stuff might ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
4 votes

Measuring the pressure and temperature of Pluto's atmosphere using stellar occultations

Stellar occultations of distant atmospheres produce light curves that are almost entirely due to refraction, not opacity (absorption), in those atmospheres. Ray paths of light rays encountering the ...
Tom Spilker's user avatar
  • 18.3k
3 votes

What's after Pluto for New Horizons?

2014 MU69 is the primary mission for now, but there are at least a few other things being done. Images are being taken of other KBOs, which given the much higher solar angle than anything which can ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
3 votes

Compounds causing the various colors on Pluto's surface?

In the second picture posted, note they say "enhanced" colors. These are not the true colors - they are stretched colors, with image processing, to show more subtle variations from within a smaller ...
Astrosprite's user avatar
3 votes

Why doesn't the New Horizons probe fly any nearer than 10,000 km from Pluto?

In 2008, the team made a list of observations they wanted to make of Pluto and its 3 moons. They tried to find a date for the flyby that have the best possible combination of observations (which ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
2 votes

Will New Horizons be able to tell if Pluto is from outside the Solar System?

Unlikely but possible. See the ability of New Horizons as given by NASA. Make a list of clues that could indicate that Charon-Pluto comes from outside the solar system. Then, would any of these clues ...
Observer's user avatar
2 votes

If there's nothing special about Pluto, why was it discovered so early?

One reason not mentioned is an accident of timing. But for an orbital coincidence, what we now call Eris might have been discovered before, or at about the same time as, Pluto. Eris has an absolute ...
Oscar Lanzi's user avatar
  • 8,505
1 vote

Did New Horizons capture enough of Pluto's surface to create its global map?

I'll add a few points to the excellent answer from TidalWave. We would not be surprised that New Horizons could not map all latitudes of Pluto. Unless we are fortunate enough to hit an equinox, a ...
Oscar Lanzi's user avatar
  • 8,505

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