Pluto or Bust!

UPDATE 2: Scrubbed for today. Will try again tomorrow.

UPDATE: One last try today at 3:23 PM ET.

The space blogging has really slowed down on MO, but I thought I’d quick point out the New Horizons mission to Pluto. It’s scheduled to launch today at 1:24 PM aboard an Atlas V in the 551 configuration.

Here’s the spacecraft:


Descriptions of the various instruments below the fold.

Ralph: Visible and infrared imager/spectrometer; provides color, composition and thermal maps.

Alice: Ultraviolet imaging spectrometer; analyzes composition and structure of Pluto’s atmosphere and looks for atmospheres around Charon and Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs).

REX: (Radio Science EXperiment) Measures atmospheric composition and temperature; passive radiometer.

LORRI: (Long Range Reconnaissance Imager) telescopic camera; obtains encounter data at long distances, maps Pluto’s farside and provides high resolution geologic data.

SWAP: (Solar Wind Around Pluto) Solar wind and plasma spectrometer; measures atmospheric “escape rate” and observes Pluto’s interaction with solar wind.

PEPSSI: (Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation) Energetic particle spectrometer; measures the composition and density of plasma (ions) escaping from Pluto’s atmosphere.

SDC: (Student Dust Counter) Built and operated by students; measures the space dust peppering New Horizons during its voyage across the solar system.