Video of New Horizons flyby of the Pluto system + Kuiper Belt target candidate chosen for flyby

Check out this excellent animation of the New Horizons probe flying out from earth and past Pluto: To Pluto and Beyond: Animating New Horizons’ Flight Through the Pluto System – Pluto New Horizons


A candidate target out in the Kuiper Belt for the New Horizons probe to fly by has been chosen:

NASA’s New Horizons Team Selects Potential Kuiper Belt Flyby Target

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits nearly a billion miles beyond Pluto.

This remote KBO was one of two identified as potential destinations and the one recommended to NASA by the New Horizons team. Although NASA has selected 2014 MU69 as the target, as part of its normal review process the agency will conduct a detailed assessment before officially approving the mission extension to conduct additional science.

Artist’s impression of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft encountering a Pluto-like object in the distant Kuiper Belt. (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Steve Gribben). Larger image
“Even as the New Horizon’s spacecraft speeds away from Pluto out into the Kuiper Belt, and the data from the exciting encounter with this new world is being streamed back to Earth, we are looking outward to the next destination for this intrepid explorer,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and chief of the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency headquarters in Washington. “While discussions whether to approve this extended mission will take place in the larger context of the planetary science portfolio, we expect it to be much less expensive than the prime mission while still providing new and exciting science.”

Like all NASA missions that have finished their main objective but seek to do more exploration, the New Horizons team must write a proposal to the agency to fund a KBO mission. That proposal – due in 2016 – will be evaluated by an independent team of experts before NASA can decide about the go-ahead.

Early target selection was important; the team needs to direct New Horizons toward the object this year in order to perform any extended mission with healthy fuel margins. New Horizons will perform a series of four maneuvers in late October and early November to set its course toward 2014 MU69 – nicknamed “PT1” (for “Potential Target 1”) – which it expects to reach on January 1, 2019. Any delays from those dates would cost precious fuel and add mission risk.

Path of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft toward its next potential target, the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, nicknamed “PT1” (for “Potential Target 1”) by the New Horizons team. Although NASA has selected 2014 MU69 as the target, as part of its normal review process the agency will conduct a detailed assessment before officially approving the mission extension to conduct additional science. (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Alex Parker). Larger image
“2014 MU69 is a great choice because it is just the kind of ancient KBO, formed where it orbits now, that the Decadal Survey desired us to fly by,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. “Moreover, this KBO costs less fuel to reach [than other candidate targets], leaving more fuel for the flyby, for ancillary science, and greater fuel reserves to protect against the unforeseen.”

New Horizons was originally designed to fly beyond the Pluto system and explore additional Kuiper Belt objects. The spacecraft carries extra hydrazine fuel for a KBO flyby; its communications system is designed to work from far beyond Pluto; its power system is designed to operate for many more years; and its scientific instruments were designed to operate in light levels much lower than it will experience during the 2014 MU69 flyby.

The 2003 National Academy of Sciences’ Planetary Decadal Survey (“New Frontiers in the Solar System”) strongly recommended that the first mission to the Kuiper Belt include flybys of Pluto and small KBOs, in order to sample the diversity of objects in that previously unexplored region of the solar system. The identification of PT1, which is in a completely different class of KBO than Pluto, potentially allows New Horizons to satisfy those goals.

But finding a suitable KBO flyby target was no easy task. Starting a search in 2011 using some of the largest ground-based telescopes on Earth, the New Horizons team found several dozen KBOs, but none were reachable within the fuel supply aboard the spacecraft.

The powerful Hubble Space Telescope came to the rescue in summer 2014, discovering five objects, since narrowed to two, within New Horizons’ flight path. Scientists estimate that PT1 is just under 30 miles (about 45 kilometers) across; that’s more than 10 times larger and 1,000 times more massive than typical comets, like the one the Rosetta mission is now orbiting, but only about 0.5 to 1 percent of the size (and about 1/10,000th the mass) of Pluto. As such, PT1 is thought to be like the building blocks of Kuiper Belt planets such as Pluto.

Unlike asteroids, KBOs have been heated only slightly by the Sun, and are thought to represent a well preserved, deep-freeze sample of what the outer solar system was like following its birth 4.6 billion years ago.

“There’s so much that we can learn from close-up spacecraft observations that we’ll never learn from Earth, as the Pluto flyby demonstrated so spectacularly,” said New Horizons science team member John Spencer, also of SwRI. “The detailed images and other data that New Horizons could obtain from a KBO flyby will revolutionize our understanding of the Kuiper Belt and KBOs.” The New Horizons spacecraft – currently 3 billion miles [4.9 billion kilometers] from Earth – is just starting to transmit the bulk of the images and other data, stored on its digital recorders, from its historic July encounter with the Pluto system. The spacecraft is healthy and operating normally.

New Horizons is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., designed, built, and operates the New Horizons spacecraft and manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. SwRI leads the science mission, payload operations, and encounter science planning.

The Space Show this week – Aug.31.15

The guests and topics of discussion on The Space Show this week:

1. Monday, August 31, 2015: No Show due to AIAA Space 2015 Conference.

2. Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, 7 PM PDT (10 PM EDT, 9 PM CDT): No show due to AIAA Space 2015 Conference.

3. Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, 9:30-11 AM PDT (12:30-2 PM EDT, 11:30 AM – 1 PM CDT): Taped interviews from the AIAA Space 2015 Conference.

4. Sunday, Sept. 6:,12-1:30 PM PDT, (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT). We welcome back MARK WHITTINGTON to discuss his new book, “Why Is It So Hard To Go Back To The Moon?”

The Space Show website modernization campaign including the development of a fully searchable & archival quality database is underway. In the first week, we have brought in more than 30% of our campaign goal. Our more than 2,500 archived programs detail the history of all aspects of the space industry with guests from every segment of the industry and every space fairing country going back decades.

Our archives are THE GOLD STANDARD verbal history of space development, along with key words and soon to be fully searchable. For information & the PERKS (including Space Show sponsorship options) please visit our support website at

From there you can link directly to our Indiegogo project. We need your help in doing this important website and archival modernization work. Thank you for your support. Don’t forget to share our campaign & information with your Facebook and other social media. Here are the important sites for this campaign:

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See also:
/– The Space Show on Vimeo – webinar videos
/– The Space Show’s Blog – summaries of interviews.
/– The Space Show Classroom Blog – tutorial programs

The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.

Video: 8.25 – A walkthrough of Copenhagen Suborbitals

The latest live program included an interview with Mads Wilson of Copenhagen Suborbitals about a recent workshop that they held : A walkthrough of Copenhagen Suborbitals – TMRO

From the caption:

TMRO Live is a crowd funded show. If you like this episode consider contributing to help us to continue to improve. Head over to for information, goals and reward levels. Don’t forget to check out our Space Pod campaign as well over at

Video: ESA Euronews report – update on the Rosetta mission

This ESA Euronews video reports on various Euro space news and then focuses on Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, , including the study of organic molecules:

The Rosetta Mission has been writing a new chapter in what we know about the formation of life. The ESA teams involved are now preparing for the last part of this amazing journey.

Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko has recently reached the perihelion – that’s the closest point to the Sun in its six and a half year orbit. It’s an important scientific step – as increasing solar energy warms the comet’s frozen ices, turning them to gas and dust. To stay safe, Rosetta has been forced to move further from the comet.

The Rosetta mission has been extended by nine months – until September next year. It’s hoped this will further boost the enormous amount of data that’s already been collected.


This image released on August 22, shows

a dramatic outburst from Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, [it] was taken by Rosetta’s NAVCAM on 22 August 2015, about 336 km from the nucleus.

This single frame Rosetta navigation camera image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was taken on 22 August 2015 from a distance of 336 km from the comet centre. The image has a resolution of 28.6 m/pixel and measures 29.3 km across. The comet reached the closest point to the Sun along its 6.5-year orbit, or perihelion, on 13 August 2015. The comet’s activity, at its peak intensity around perihelion and in the weeks that follow, is clearly visible in the image, including a significant outburst. Larger image
More about the image:

The image scale is 28.6 m/pixel and the image measures 29.3 km across. Although the activity is extraordinarily bright even in the original (below), the image above has been lightly enhanced to give a better view of the outline of the nucleus in the lower part of the image, as well as to show the full extent of the activity.

In this view, the comet is oriented with the large lobe up, revealing the Imhotep region as well as parts of Ash to the left, Aten at the centre (close to the edge and partly in shade), and Khepry to the right. The outburst seems to originate from a patch of the comet’s surface between Imhotep and Khepry.

The smaller lobe can be seen in the lower right part of the image, where indications of the ongoing activity over much of the comet can also be seen.

Comet 67P/C-G made its closest approach to the Sun, or perihelion, on 13 August 2015, just nine days before this image was taken. Based on observations made during previous passages of the comet through the inner solar system, scientists expect the activity to remain high for several weeks after perihelion, and the comet is likely to produce more of these sudden outbursts and peaks of activity.

The science instruments on Rosetta have also observed these outbursts and the teams are busy analysing the data to understand the nature of these events. These in-situ measurements are being complemented by astronomical observations from ground-based and near-Earth telescopes to try and understand the global impact of these events on the much larger coma of 67P/C-G

Mars Society not quite to crowdfunding target for GreenHab + 1 year Mars habitat sim starts in Hawaii with 6 volunteers

With three days left, Mars Society is near but not yet over its crowdfunding target for the funding of a new “GreenHab” greenhouse facility at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah: Veggies on Mars – Help Rebuild the MDRS GreenHab – Indiegogo. The previous greenhouse was destroyed by fire.



At another Mars sim facility, six people recently entered an habitat in Hawaii where they will simulate a Mars mission for the next year. This will be the fourth mission of the HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) program.


Here is a blog from the habitat residents: Live From Mars – We are the Martians! | 12 months, 6 scientists, 1 Hab. Welcome to “Mars”.

Updates also available at #hiseas hashtag on Twitter.