Planetary Radio Live: New Horizons' date with Pluto
KPCC's Crawford Family Forum curated social media reaction from scientists, reporters, and Plutonians both present and not present on the panel. You can see their thoughts here:
New Horizons: The First Mission to the Pluto System and the Kuiper Belt
After sailing across the solar system for over nine years, on July 14th NASA’s New Horizons finally had its close encounter with Pluto. Even though images weren't immediately available, fans around the world gathered to hear news from the spacecraft as it approached the dwarf planet and its companions. A full house joined us as The Planetary Society’s Mat Kaplan talked with New Horizons scientists and Pluto-watchers and we monitored the Applied Physics Lab’s live webcast, broadcast from Maryland. Mat’s guests for Planetary Radio LIVE on the Crawford Family Forum stage were:
- Dr. Jim Bell, President of The Planetary Society, Mars explorer, and author of “Postcards from Mars” and “The Space Book.” Jim has a main belt asteroid named after him.
- Dr. Bruce Betts, Director of Science and Technology for The Planetary Society
Dr. Linda J. Spilker, Project Scientist for the Cassini Mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
We also checked in live via Skype with our correspondents from the scene at the Applied Physics Lab:
- Emily Lakdawalla, Senior Editor for The Planetary Society
- Bill Nye the Science Guy™, CEO of The Planetary Society
We had a "killer" surprise guest in Mike Brown, author of "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming."
The New Horizons mission will help us understand worlds at the edge of our solar system by making the first reconnaissance of the dwarf planet Pluto and by venturing deeper into the distant, mysterious Kuiper Belt – a relic of solar system formation.
New Horizons launched on Jan. 19, 2006; it swung past Jupiter for a gravity boost and scientific studies in February 2007, and will conduct a five-month-long reconnaissance flyby study of Pluto and its moons in summer 2015. Pluto closest approach is scheduled for July 14, 2015. As part of an extended mission, the spacecraft is expected to head farther into the Kuiper Belt to examine one or two of the ancient, icy mini-worlds in that vast region, at least a billion miles beyond Neptune’s orbit.
Sending a spacecraft on this long journey will help us answer basic questions about the surface properties, geology, interior makeup and atmospheres on these bodies.