, Volume 140, Issue 1-4, pp 93-127
Date: 03 Dec 2008

New Horizons: Anticipated Scientific Investigations at the Pluto System

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Abstract

The New Horizons spacecraft will achieve a wide range of measurement objectives at the Pluto system, including color and panchromatic maps, 1.25–2.50 micron spectral images for studying surface compositions, and measurements of Pluto’s atmosphere (temperatures, composition, hazes, and the escape rate). Additional measurement objectives include topography, surface temperatures, and the solar wind interaction. The fulfillment of these measurement objectives will broaden our understanding of the Pluto system, such as the origin of the Pluto system, the processes operating on the surface, the volatile transport cycle, and the energetics and chemistry of the atmosphere. The mission, payload, and strawman observing sequences have been designed to achieve the NASA-specified measurement objectives and maximize the science return. The planned observations at the Pluto system will extend our knowledge of other objects formed by giant impact (such as the Earth–moon), other objects formed in the outer solar system (such as comets and other icy dwarf planets), other bodies with surfaces in vapor-pressure equilibrium (such as Triton and Mars), and other bodies with N2:CH4 atmospheres (such as Titan, Triton, and the early Earth).