back to article NASA's New Horizon probe rudely fires its thruster at gnome planet

NASA's New Horizons space probe has fired its thrusters for the last time to get it into position before it buzzes Pluto on July 14. The little science lab has also detected evidence of methane on the halfling planet. "We are really on the final path," said New Horizons Project Manager Glen Fountain, of APL. "It just gets …

  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "Everything is going extremely well"

    ...we have no complaints!

    (But will the iceballs align on the photoshoot?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Everything is going extremely well"

      "I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all, I think, that any conscious entity can ever hope to do."

  2. Ilmarinen
    Thumb Up

    Go little space probe !

    or is it refrigerator sized? - *Go* anyway, our proxy to a distant worldlett :-)

  3. hardboiledphil


    And I thought my upload speed to Dropbox was slow...

  4. Titus Aduxass
    Thumb Up


    "it will have a very limited period of time to take the close up images that scientists are lusting after."

    And the people. The people are lusting after photos of Pluto too!

    Go little probe, go!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I fucking love science me

    That is all

  6. Anonymous Coward

    IT's your Destiny

    I want a ton of Orville Redenbacker Popcorn. And a dozen truckloads of Newcastle Brown Ale. I still remember my Supra modem at 300-2400 baud. This is one loooong download!

    Waiting with bated breath for the Kuiper Belt.

  7. Graham Marsden

    "She's in the pipe, five by five"

    Just as long as it's not on an Express Elevator to Hell... Going down!

  8. RIBrsiq


    So that's about the speed of my first modem, then...

    ...Ancient Ones icon...?

  9. Sealand

    Come one, people. The probe is 2.95 billion miles away. Try it yourself with a twisted pair phone cable and see what bit rate you get.

    Once again astronomy baffles me:

    " Without the course correction, New Horizons would have been 20 seconds late, and 114 miles (184 kilometres) off the planned route"

    20 seconds late?

    114 miles off?

    After travelling 2.95 beeellion miles?

    And they know that and fix it by speeding up a bit?

    Here's to the boffins that do the math.

    1. Robert Heffernan

      Rounding Error

      You gotta love compounded rounding errors.

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: Rounding Error

        You gotta love compounded rounding errors.

        You've got to love the combination of units - "... centimetres per second, a small fraction of ... miles per hour" Did we have European and US scientists working on this probe?

        Anyway, I reckon the course correction was about 0.5mile per hour - the speed of an average hedgehog. There would have been far less confusion if they used a standard unit - current probe speed is 65000 Hedgehogs ...

        I presume they're pulling Hew Horizons like a team of Huskies?

        1. AbelSoul

          Re: the speed of an average hedgehog

          Thank you.

          You have inspired me to attempt to crowbar the phrase

          faster than a speeding hedgehog

          into a work conversation today.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: the speed of an average hedgehog

            cm per second, miles per hour

            I think it's a rather British thing, we tend to measure precise things in metric and then guestimates and things that don't need to be precise in imperial. I guess it also depends on how old you are. For me I only know things about feet, inches, miles, ounces, pounds and stones. I'd guestimate my desk in feet and inches but measure it in metres and centimetres. I was taught metric and inherited imperial.

            Probably has something to do with your height was measured in feet and inches when you were a kid and you were weighed in pounds and stones. And things were miles away.

        2. x 7

          Re: Rounding Error

          at least one senior on the project is British

          she gave an interesting talk on the project in Lancaster earlier this year

        3. Martin Budden

          Re: Rounding Error

          0.5 miles per hour? You misunderestimate the speed of the average hedgehog!

          p.s. apologies for the sax

  10. Kharkov

    Nice article, I for one, had no idea that the data would be coming at the amazing speed of...


    Well, it that's what it is, then that's what it is but damn, if I was a space scientist, I'd be clamouring, clamouring for the chance to work on a high-bandwidth laser comms system because 1Kb/Sec?

    Never mind proving this law or that hypothesis, New Horizons has just proved The Stross Accelerando Principle (Hmm, that actually came out cooler than I thought it would) where the inner system is a high-bandwidth, low-latency region and the outer system is nothing but empty space, very small amounts of dumb matter and, worst of all, there's no signal out there.

    Time to get the Lobsters (read the book) out there...

    1. AbelSoul

      Time to get the Lobsters out ...

      Worst job I ever 'ad.

  11. Christoph

    Have they chosen the next target yet?

    If they want another flyby, will they be able to change course enough after the encounter? Obviously they can't mess up the Pluto pass, but I would have thought they might tweak it to make it easier to get to the next target.

  12. Annihilator
    Paris Hilton

    Genuine question

    "Without the course correction, New Horizons would have been 20 seconds late"

    Late for what?

    1. launcap Silver badge

      Re: Genuine question

      > Late for what?

      Cocktail hour? Lecture on the implausability of trusting politicians? Its own funeral[1]?

      [1] I suppose you could term "slamming into a planetary[2] surface at x thousand kph" a sort of funeral

      [2] Don't worry Pluto - I'll still call you a planet. After all, we still call Belgium a country..

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Genuine question

        Remember that Pluto is in it's own orbit, and moving quite fast (4.67 Km/s), so late as in crossing Pluto's orbit after it has passed by. 20 seconds would have increased the closest distance, but probably not by much compared to the 7,750 miles distance.

        But the answer is in the quoted article from NASA. "...[JHAPL] says without the adjustment, New Horizons would have arrived 20 seconds late and 114 miles (184 kilometers) off-target from the spot where it will measure the properties of Pluto’s atmosphere. Those measurements depend on radio signals being sent from Earth to New Horizons at precise times as the spacecraft flies through the shadows of Pluto and Pluto’s largest moon, Charon."

        So yes, late.

    2. Martin Budden

      Re: Genuine question

      > Late for what?

      Late for its table booking at Milliways.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Genuine question

        I'm sorry. You've done it now. I can't resist.....

        "... Late, as in the late Dent, Arther Dent. It's a sort of threat, you see..."

        - Slartybartfast.

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