Gravity Assist Will Help Pluto-Bound Craft

Gravity assist? The New Horizons spacecraft, the first probe ever sent to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, launched a year ago atop a Lockheed Martin-build Atlas 5 rocket. With an after-burn speed of 36,250 miles per hour, it's NASA's fastest probe ever. How much assistance could it need?

It needs help, because even at that rate, the New Horizons craft would take twelve years to get to Pluto. The "slingshot" effect of Jupiter's gravity will shave about three years off that schedule.


(Gravity assist from Jupiter helps New Horizons craft )

At it's closest approach, the New Horizons spacecraft will come within 1.7 million miles of the gas giant. At present, the probe is about 41 million miles from Jupiter and is now closing in at a speed of about 44,000 miles per hour.

The spacecraft will be seized by Jupiter's gravitational field and hauled along with the gas giant in its orbit. By the time New Horizons breaks free, it should achieve a velocity of about 52,000 miles per hour.

Who first thought of the idea of using a gravity assist to speed space craft through the solar system? The first scientists to work on it were Derek Lawden in 1954 and Michael Minovitch in 1961 at JPL. As far as I know, the first person to explicitly suggest that a gravity assist would work for spacecraft was science fiction writer Ray Cummings in his 1931 novel Brigands of the Moon.

We were at this time no more than some sixty-five thousand miles from the moon's surface. The Planetara presently would swing upon her direct course for Mars. There was nothing that would cause passenger comment in this close passing of the moon; normally we used the satellite's attraction to give us additional starting speed.
(Read more about Ray Cummings' gravity assist)

Read more about Pluto-Bound Spacecraft to Nab Speed Boost in Jupiter Flyby; find out more about gravity assisted space missions. (Technorati Profile)

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/20/2007)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Are There Diamond Planets?
'I believe the whole central portion of the earth is one great diamond.' - Frank Stockton, 1897.

Brick By Brick, Building Martian Bases
Don't try to boost everything from the surface of the Earth.

Cool 'Single-Person Spaceships' Have Better SF Name
'A cabin so small, you couldn't stand up with the air lock closed..' - Larry Niven, 1969.

Skating On Mars' Frozen Pools
'They went down, put on their skates, and started.' - Robert Heinlein, 1949.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

China Bans Self-Driving Car Testing
Innovation hits some bumps.

Robotic Lawnmower Fulfills SciFi Homeowner's Dreams
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself like a contented hen...'

7-Eleven Drone Delivers Chix Sandwich And Slurpee
'It was a smooth ovoid floating a few inches from the floor...'

Beta-Ti3Au Titanium-Gold Alloy Hardest Tissue-Compatible Metal
It needs a more science-fictional name!

Solar Plane Circles The Globe
'Tropism-like pursuit of the sun across the sky as they recharged their batteries...'

Audiobooks - Fastest Growing Format In Publishing
'The public preferred lectons...'

SuperMeat - Crowdfunding Pohl/Kornbluth's Chicken Little
'Chicken Little, who would be sliced and packed to feed people from Baffinland to Little America.'

Martian-Grown Food Might Be Fine
'I donít want to come off as arrogant here, but Iím the best botanist on the planet.'

MARLO Robot Attempts Wave Field
'It is apparent that he will walk before his human brother.'

3RDiTEK Lifeblogging Headband Camera
'It's logging anyway - everything you see on duty goes into the black box.'

3D-Printed Biohybrid Is A Tissue-Engineered Robot
'The directing neurological tissue that forms the basis of the swibble is alive...'

Steerable Locusts Detect Explosives
Science fiction writers again provide a blueprint for the future.

No Human Drivers By 2040 - Israel
'It's been a criminal offense,,, to drive manually on a public highway.'

Graphene Ultracapacitor Airships For Heavy Lifting
'The war-balloons were to be kept for purposes of transportation of heavy articles...'

Uber Hires Robot Security Guard
'The robot studied the identification clip.'

Mind-Altering Drugs Administered Deep Into The Brain
'Happy to serve!'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.