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 ")

Caihong Solar-Powered Drone 'Atmospheric Satellite'
'... placed in the wings of a plane to generate power from the light falling on that surface.' - John W. Campbell, 1930.

NASA Wants Low Earth Orbit Wifi
'This was the center of Interplanetary Communications.' - George O. Smith, 1942.

The Space Suit As Personal Spaceship
'Darn clever, these suits...' - Jack Williamson, 1933.

Pent-Up NASA Scientists Simulate Life On Mars
'That gives it complete isolation.' - David H. Keller, 1932.

 

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

PassivDom 3D Printed House - What If You Could Live Anywhere?
'The houses are prefabricated units...'

Breakthrough In Manufacture Of Red Blood Cells
This blood's for you!

Caihong Solar-Powered Drone 'Atmospheric Satellite'
'... placed in the wings of a plane to generate power from the light falling on that surface.'

NASA Wants Low Earth Orbit Wifi
'This was the center of Interplanetary Communications.'

Is Genetic Testing At Businesses A Bad Idea?
It's not a topic that fares well in science fiction movies-

Wearable Smart Jacket
He pressed the button in his sleeve communicator and snapped: 'Action stations!'

Store One Bit On One Atom
'...each individual molecule has a meaning.'

Fluorescent Bacteria Fashion
'The racks of gowns itched and quivered, their colors running into blurred pools.'

Keith Laumer's Bolo Autonomous Tanks Right On Schedule
'I cannot lie idle under attack.'

When Computers Develop Their Own Language, Will They Talk To Us?
'The curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits - the Talk Between Robots radio...'

LipNet Reads Lips - Until Disconnected, That Is
'We'd have to cut his higher brain functions... I'm not sure what [HAL} would think about that.'

Eterni.me - To Skype With The Dead
'Nothing... left of Jeserac but a galaxy of electrons frozen in the heart of a crystal.'

Wearable MRI Is Former Occulus/Facebook Exec's New Project
'Your cephalochromoscope... that you always turn on and play when you get home...'

Ford Stratasys Infinte Build 3D Printer
'He proudly indicated his Buick... Almost as good as the original it was printed from...'

The Space Suit As Personal Spaceship
'Darn clever, these suits...'

Dune Fans! Your God Emperor Is Ready
'If one held a sandtrout in the hand, smoothing it over your skin, it formed a living glove.'

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.