Space Robotics

Pluto Kuiper Express Mission is On Again

Posted 9 Nov 2001 at 15:00 UTC by The Swirling Brain Share This

It looks like the Pluto Kuiper Express Mission is On Again! The House and Senate conferees included $30 million gift for the Pluto Kuiper Express mission, which previously had been canceled or deferred and whose status had been on again and off again many times. Costs have been estimated as high as $800 million so $30 million just seems like seed money. Planetary scientists want to get to Pluto to study the atmosphere before it freezes. The scientists expect that by 2015 the atmosphere will get so cold that it will freeze solid and won't unfreeze for another 200 years. Another factor that requires a hasty launch is that it seems that there are only two more windows of opportunity for using Jupiter as a gravity assist: one in 2004 and on in 2006. Scientists hope the mission can be launched by 2006 at the latest. Pluto and its moon Charon are just two of the Kuiper belt objects that may be studied during this mission. Here's another article about it. Here's the home page. Here's some more info.

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