Machine Design

Pluto probe prepares for decade-long trek

The New Horizon space probe just completed four months of space environment testing and is now being readied for a January 11 launch from Kennedy Space Center.

The 1,000-lb spacecraft carries seven scientific

instruments it will use to explore Pluto and its moon, Charon, as early as the summer of 2015. Its mission is to examine the geology of Pluto and Charon, mapping their composition, recording temperatures, and observing

Pluto's atmosphere. The probe may also make fly-bys of rocky objects further out in the solar system during the extended mission.

Image: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

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