One More Thing Fastest space­craft in the so­lar sys­tem

Air & Space Smithsonian - - Front Page -

The fastest space­craft ever launched, New Hori­zons will reach Pluto on July 14 and send back the first close-up im­ages. A mockup of the space­craft hangs in the Na­tional Air and Space Mu­seum.

The real half-ton craft car­ries seven in­stru­ments to study Pluto’s at­mos­phere and how it’s af­fected by so­lar winds, as well as sur­face for­ma­tions.

The dish-like REX (Ra­dio Sci­ence Ex­per­i­ment) an­a­lyzes at­mo­spheric com­po­si­tion and car­ries a pas­sive ra­diome­ter to gauge the in­ten­sity of elec­tro­mag­netic ra­di­a­tion.

The vis­i­ble side of the probe houses Ralph, a vis­i­ble and in­frared im­ager/ spec­trom­e­ter, and Alice, an ul­tra­vi­o­let spec­trom­e­ter that will look for at­mos­pheres around Pluto’s moon Charon and ob­jects in the Kuiper Belt.

On the back of the craft, LORRI (Long Range Re­con­nais­sance Im­ager) will take high-res­o­lu­tion im­ages of Pluto’s rock for­ma­tions and help to map the dwarf planet’s far side.

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