What are your views on the New Horizons mission to Pluto?

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Offline Matthew L

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NASA, with their New Horizons robotic spacecraft mission has been on route for four and a half years on route to to the dwarf planet Pluto, and possible expect to travel beyond it's orbit to see what is going on in the Edgeworth–Kuiper belt. and is projected to reach the dwarf planet on July 14, 2015, which will take the first ever photographic pictures of the dwarf planet. On December 2, of this year the spacecraft will be closer to Pluto than any other spacecraft has ever been. It will pass Neptune's orbit on August 14, 2014, an will reach Pluto on July 14, 2015. I've always wondered what that enigma of a planet looks like, since I was a child. I suppose they'll also wish to fly by the dwarf planet Haume and Makemake, for whatever it's purpose. The cost of the mission, according to NASA is 650 million USD. I guess that's not too much to Americans. 

Anybody thoughts on this?
« Last Edit: 28/08/2011 22:10:49 by chris »


Offline graham.d

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Re: What are your views on the New Horizons mission to Pluto?
« Reply #1 on: 24/08/2011 10:19:55 »
I am impressed by the amount of money that is still being spent, in these hard times, on programmes that have no predictable direct benefit to the State or even to the world in general. Maybe there are some direct benefits but they are hard to see. $650M is not peanuts, especially when there will be a likely high factor overrun of the costs. I guess it just seems cheap compared with maintaining the shuttle programme. Anyway, it is great that people are still investing in pure science (and big science), especially that which can fire the imaginations in young people and inspire them. It is hard to put a value on such things.