Part 1: Monday @ 2:30PM PDT/5:30PM EDT/21:30 UTC
Part 2: Tuesday @ 4:30AM PDT/7:30AM EDT?11:30 UTC (close approach
Part 3: Wednesday @ 2:30PM PDT/5:30PM PDT/21:30 UTC (First images)
After more than nine years, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is on the final leg of its 3 billion mile journey to the dwarf planet Pluto. In July 2015, New Horizons will make the first close-up reconnaissance of Pluto and its five moons and take images and measurements of this distant and still mysterious world. It will be an epic encounter. Slooh.com will have live coverage of the New Horizons mission as it reaches Pluto this summer.
New Horizons, which at its core resembles a grand piano in shape and size, was launched on January 19, 2006. It passed by the Jovian system in early 2007, picked up speed from a gravity boost, and now approaches Pluto at 31,000 mph. After travelling nearly 32 astronomical units, or 3 billion miles, the craft will pass just 6,200 miles from the surface of Pluto on July 14, 2015.
As part of its primary science mission, New Horizons will map the global geology and topography of Pluto and its largest moon Charon, determine their surface composition and temperature, measure Pluto’s atmosphere, study Pluto’s smaller moons Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra, and search for further moons and possible rings. From these measurements, scientists will try to determine how Pluto and its moons are related to the major planets of the solar system.