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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Man-Made Space Leaf Creates Oxygen From Water And Light
'What better purifying machine is there than... grass?'- George O. Smith, 1942.
Revisiting A Cloud City On Venus
I've been looking forward to something like this since 1980.
'Windowless Cockpit' Like Star Trek's Patent Applied For
Wait - you thought Sulu had a window?
NASA's Warp Speed Starship Design
'As Earth's faster-than-light spaceship hung in the void between galaxies...'- John W. Campbell
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.
I'll be back next week...
Origami Robot Finally Self-Assembles, Walks On Its Own
Now shipping flat, but better than Ikea, because self-assembling.
A.L.O. Robot Butler Serves You At Aloft Hotel
'Her idea of what a butler-valet combo should look like...'
Mometum Machines Burgerbot
'One of these gorgeous eating places where we were served entirely by mechanical apparatus...'
Google Lobbies For Autonomous Motorcycles
'He had never ridden any motorized device that lacked onboard steering and balance systems.'
No Cages In Future Zoos Is Zootopia?
'The park... twisted through specimens from every inhabited planet of the known universe.'
Navdy HeadUp Display (HUD) For Your Car
'All displays are thrown on a mirror in front of you...'
Computer 'Aesop' Writes Fables With A Moral
'I handed Tony the master tape and he played it into the IBM'
Artificial Wombs - Ectogenesis Technology - Is On The Way
'Magnificent, aren't they? (Lama Su, in Star Wars II)
Robotic Exoskeleton For Shipyard Workers
'Earth's scientists solved the problem... devising rigid metallic clothing not unlike armor...'
Timeful Appointment App Learns, Optimizes Your Routines
'The [Daily Schedule program] suited its tone to his movements and the combined analysis of his psychophysical condition.'
3D Printing Your Science-Fictional Metals
I love science-fictional materials!
Bespoke Clothing In 30 Minutes
'He sat himself down in a sales cubicle and dialed the code number for kilts.'
Low Cost Spray-On Solar Cells
'It turns sunlight into electricity... you spray it on.'
Survival Seed Vault Low Cost Life Bank
'They existed in the Life Bank, as did virtually every plant...'
PoseiDrone Tentacled Undersea Robot Like HG Wells'
'Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories