Overview of the New Horizons Science Payload
- 366 Downloads
The New Horizons mission was launched on 2006 January 19, and the spacecraft is heading for a flyby encounter with the Pluto system in the summer of 2015. The challenges associated with sending a spacecraft to Pluto in less than 10 years and performing an ambitious suite of scientific investigations at such large heliocentric distances (>32 AU) are formidable and required the development of lightweight, low power, and highly sensitive instruments. This paper provides an overview of the New Horizons science payload, which is comprised of seven instruments. Alice provides moderate resolution (∼3–10 Å FWHM), spatially resolved ultraviolet (∼465–1880 Å) spectroscopy, and includes the ability to perform stellar and solar occultation measurements. The Ralph instrument has two components: the Multicolor Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC), which performs panchromatic (400–975 nm) and color imaging in four spectral bands (Blue, Red, CH4, and NIR) at a moderate spatial resolution of 20 μrad/pixel, and the Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA), which provides spatially resolved (62 μrad/pixel), near-infrared (1.25–2.5 μm), moderate resolution (λ/δ λ∼240–550) spectroscopic mapping capabilities. The Radio Experiment (REX) is a component of the New Horizons telecommunications system that provides both radio (X-band) solar occultation and radiometry capabilities. The Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) provides high sensitivity (V<18), high spatial resolution (5 μrad/pixel) panchromatic optical (350–850 nm) imaging capabilities that serve both scientific and optical navigation requirements. The Solar Wind at Pluto (SWAP) instrument measures the density and speed of solar wind particles with a resolution ΔE/E<0.4 for energies between 25 eV and 7.5 keV. The Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation (PEPSSI) measures energetic particles (protons and CNO ions) in 12 energy channels spanning 1–1000 keV. Finally, an instrument designed and built by students, the Venetia Burney Student Dust Counter (VB-SDC), uses polarized polyvinylidene fluoride panels to record dust particle impacts during the cruise phases of the mission.
KeywordsNew Horizons mission Pluto Kuiper belt
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- F. Bagenal, T.E. Cravens, J.G. Luhmann, R.L. McNutt Jr., A.F. Cheng, Pluto’s interaction with the solar wind, in Pluto and Charon, ed. by S.A. Stern, D.J. Tholen (Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, 1997), pp. 523–555 Google Scholar
- R.E. McNutt et al., The Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation (PEPSSI) on New Horizons. Space Sci. Rev. (2007, this issue) Google Scholar
- C.B. Olkin, D. Reuter, A. Lunsford, R.P. Binzel, S.A. Stern, The New Horizons distant flyby of asteroid 2002 JF56. DPS Meeting #38 (2006) abstract #59.22 Google Scholar
- G.D. Rogers, M.R. Schwinger, J.T. Kaidy, T.E. Strikwerda, R. Casini, A. Landi et al., Autonomous star tracker performance, in Proc. The 57th IAC Congress, Valenica, Spain, 2006 Google Scholar
- L.A. Young et al., New Horizons: Anticipated scientific investigations at the Pluto system. Space Sci. Rev. (2007, this issue) Google Scholar