The New Horizons probe to Pluto, Charon and the Kuiper Belt has launched.
It was the fastest Atlas ever lanched and will pass the Moon in a mere nine hours. Following a gravity assist from Jupiter in Feb/March 2007, the probe will speed for a further eight years before encountering Pluto and its moon Charon in July 2015. It will then flyby to encounter a Kuiper Belt object.
I want to know a lot more about this mission - and the Kuiper Belt!!!!!
date: 21/01/2006 00:18 GMT
There's a link to the New Horizons mission site in the original post. The Kuiper Belt is still quite mysterious. Proposed in 1950, the last 15 years have seen the first verifiable observations, and by the late '90s it got to the stage where high school observation teams were discovering new bodies!
Sorry, the "original post" was "The New Horizons probe to Pluto, Charon and the Kuiper Belt has launched." I get the hyperlink text in a larger font, if that's not apparent on your browser I'll change it to underlining.
They sent a probe to Uranus in 1986; the Voyager program was to take advantage of a line up of gas giants, but in practice the politicians would only grant the funds to go ahead one step at a time. I find it difficult to remember the January 24 1986 flyby because it was overshadowed by the Challenger shuttle disaster of Janaury 28th, and the planet itself was somewhat featureless, leading to poor media. When Voyager 2 flew past Neptune in August 1989 it was a media frenzy.