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 ")

DARPA's XS-1 Spaceplane
'They were more airplane than spaceship...' - Robert Heinlein, 1951.

NASA Culturing ISS Walls For Microbes
'Collect organisms and dust for study...' - Michael Crichton, 1969.

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet Tests His Suit
'The interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.' - Otto Willi Gail, 1929.

Astronaut Tim Peake Completes Space Marathon
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses...' - Murray Leinster, 1953.

 

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

Ignition Interlock Devices Stopped 1.7 Million Drunken Tries
'Maybe the car was right...'

Man Filmed Sleeping In Tesla On Autopilot
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...'

Otto Self-Driving Truck Kits
'Trucks gulped packages and scurried like beetles...'

Humans Help Robots Identify Recyclables
'You give it a good look... then press the right button and in she goes.'

Is This Robotic Hand As Quick As Yours?
'V-Stephen's surgeon-hand, a self-contained robot of precision quality...'

DARPA's XS-1 Spaceplane
'They were more airplane than spaceship...'

Douglas Adams Your Babel Fish Is Ready - The Pilot By Waverly
'You'll need to have this fish in your ear.'

OMG! DIY Arduino Robot Vacuum Cleaner Like Bradbury's Mice
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.'

NASA Culturing ISS Walls For Microbes
'Collect organisms and dust for study...'

Siemens 3D Printing Robot Spiders
'The eight thin metallic legs were pointed downwards, balanced delicately...'

Implants Melt In Your Brain, Not In Your Hands
Implant and forget - they melt in your brain, not in your hands.

Baby Boomers Will LOVE Autonomous Cars (Trust Me!)
'Old people began to cross the continent in their own cars....'

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet Tests His Suit
'The interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'

DIY Method To Summon Tesla With Amazon Echo
'Thomas focussed the violet beam of a hand flash on a plate...'

AI Lawyer 'Ross' Gets First Job
'Why don't we just feed the bloody thing to LEX...'

MIT's Second Skin Enhances Original Skin
'I must care, or I wouldn't live in this lying skin suit...'

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.