Monday, November 28, 2011

"Pluto's Moons Could Spell Danger for New Horizons Spacecraft"

Let's hope this scenario does not come to pass for our Pluto-bound space probe.
When NASA's New Horizons spacecraft reaches Pluto in July 2015, it may find the region more hazardous than anticipated. The discovery of several moons around Pluto — and the potential for more — increase the risks during the probe's flyby.

The main problem is debris. The small moons are under constant bombardment from nearby space rocks called Kuiper Belt objects, but the moons' low gravity prevents them from holding on to chunks of dirt and rock that fly into the air when hit. The debris instead finds itself caught in orbit around Pluto, where it could pose a serious threat to New Horizons.

It'd be a shame if New Horizons meets an untimely end just as it arrives. I so want to see what that planetoid looks like close up.

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