Pluto historical encounter

plutiPluto has surprised scientists: its smooth surface reveals geological activity

Just a quick post.

Yesterday New Horizons probe has reached Pluto after a nine years long journey of 5 billions Kilometers, a distance so gigantic that light takes more than 4 hours to cover it. This is the first close encounter with the planet for a man-made object. It is a truly remarkable achievement for astronautics: can you imagine the complexity of planning a few thousands Kilometers rendezvous with one of the farthest body in the solar system nine years before it happens?

Congratulations NASA!

montagne

The Plutonian mountains are now believed to be made of water ice

The only problem is the speed: 16 Km/s are not enough to think about manned missions, but they’re enough to rise mission costs (expenses for nine years!). Let’s imagine for a moment a probe equipped with PNN drive: Pluto would be reached in less than three weeks and the probe could return home after the mission.

On second thought, if we could use such propulsion system would we need probes anymore? Why don’t send a human expedition instead?

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3 thoughts on “Pluto historical encounter

  1. We need probes where the planet is hostile for the human (like Jupiter, Venus, Mercury). In this case we would send probes to explore the surface of the planet before landing the starship.

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  2. You’re right Valerio. Maybe the ship itself could be equipped with probes.. I’m thinking about something small and compact like cubesats fitted with PNN and a small generator

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    1. Yes, small probes like cubesat, equipped with sensors and cameras, launched from the starship near the planet, the probe could also return in the starship after the survey, by exploiting its own PNN propellers.

      Liked by 1 person

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