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I've started a new Live Story, Countdown to Pluto.
Want to build your own model of New Horizons? 3D printable plans available here.
I haven't listened to this whole thing, but one of the things I did learn is that it will take 16 months to download all the data from the Pluto flyby.
Be sure to check the Live Story for new developments every day.
They say it will take another 16 months to download all of the data captured during the fly-by.
If only Sir Patrick Moore and Carl Sagan could have lived to see this.
I think "The Sky at Night" due to when in the month the BBC puts it may treat the British to some live coverage of the fly-by, much like Ted Koppel did with Nightline back in 1981 with the Voyager fly-by of Saturn.
Of course these days, I worry about the current American generations and how they are so pre-occupied with so many trivial things to get all worked up over that real science and discovery has lost its fascination.
Much like that afternoon on June 6, 2012 in the Sam's parking lot with a spotting scope on a tripod and full aperture safety filter and some #12 welders' filters, and how few even wanted to take a look at Venus crossing the face of the sun for the last time in this lifetime, because it was too much bother. That lack of interest speaks volumes on where our civilization appears to be headed.
I was telling people then as they just walked on by, "better take your vitamins and exercise because it's another 127 years till it happens again."
Maybe it's because we have so many people who are physically unfit that they couldn't survive a few more seconds out in the summer heat away from air conditioning and a steady supply of cold drinks to look through a telescope at a once in a lifetime event (well, twice, because some folks saw the 2008 transit).
Speaking of not as rare events, I need to get the 4.5 inch scope out in another couple of hours and try to get some good pictures of Venus and Jupiter in close conjunction, then move the camera to the wide angle lens and fixed tripod for the fireworks.
That clock is ticking down awfully fast, as the gravitational steering window from the precise fly-by trajectory is getting narrower and narrower with each passing minute. I don't know how much fuel is left on the spacecraft, but I'd doubt it has more than a few hundred feet per second of delta-V to tweak its final trajectory after it has gone past Pluto, which might not be enough to reach a second target.
While before fly-by, tweaking the corridor it passes through going by Pluto by only a couple of feet per second can make a difference of several degrees in any direction desired for the post-flyby path towards interstellar space to take a look at something else interesting.
Of course most people are clueless as to just how vast and empty the outer solar system is, even passing through a "dense cloud" of Kupier belt objects. The separation between them is still enormous, and getting close enough to a second one to get useful data requires some rather precise cosmic billiards.
Meanwhile, the sci-fi movie effects folk depict clouds of floating rock and ice that the heroes have to violently maneuver to avoid colliding with. I tend to either cringe at or laugh at inappropriate moments when watching those shows when they get the science so totally wrong, especially when it is used as a device to move the plot along several times in only 90 minutes.