Enthusiasts are about to witness New Horizons meeting Pluto as the robotic probe wakes up from hibernation after almost nine years. Following nine years and a voyage of 3 billion miles (4.8 billion km), NASA’s New Horizons will start its phenomenal mission: the investigation of the glacial midget planet Pluto and its home, the Kuiper Belt.
A preset wake-up timer is scheduled to revitalize New Horizons from its electronic sleep at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) on Saturday. A scientific exploration of Pluto, its escort of moons and different bodies in the planetary system’s back yard will start Jan. 15, program directors said.
New Horizons’ end of hibernation should check out at 9:30 p.m. EST (0230 GMT). The device will be the closest to Pluto on July 14, next year.
The vehicle is equipped with various tools, from spectrometers that can uncover insights about Pluto’s structure and climate to a dust-gathering plate that will examine elements in the planet’s space district.
Pluto is located in the Kuiper Belt, an area of frosty little planets circling the sun, past Neptune. It is the last uncharted part of our solar system.
Excitement grows among scientist as New Horizons is getting close Pluto’s area, as this will be their first sneak peek into an unmapped space.
Head scientist Alan Stern pointed out: “It’s hard to underestimate the evolution that’s taking place in our view of the architecture and content of our solar system as result of the discovery … of the Kuiper Belt”.
Ever since it was spotted in 1930, Pluto has been like a riddle, especially in in view of its relatively little size. Researchers attempted find out how a planet having justa 740 miles (1,190 km) radius managed to appear in an area dominated by Goliaths like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. They believed the planet to be an outsider to those systems.
Astronomers found in 1992 that the small planet about 40 times farther away from the sun than our own was not unique in terms of size and advised the International Astronomical Union to reevaluate the meaning of a “planet”.
With New Horizons officially on its way in 2006, Pluto was stripped of its title as the ninth planet in the solar system and classified just as a dwarf planet among more than 1,000 siblings, subsequently found in the Kuiper Belt.
After “trespassing Pluto’s property”, New Horizons might be heading for one or more bodies in the Kuiper Belt, which comprises proto-planetary remainders that may offer tips-offs about Solar system development 4.6 billion years back.