Saturday, July 25, 2015

New Horizons achieves its goal

"Heart of Pluto" picture from New Horizons website

In my posts of January 25, 2015 (New Horizons soon to reach Pluto) and February 2, 2015 (The technology of New Horizons) I wrote about the NASA flyby mission to Pluto that was launched on January 16, 2006. The flyby was closest on July 15, 2015.

The New Horizons website now has continually updated information on what the scientific team has found so far, and are still finding. And - of course - there are great photos of Pluto and its moons, never before seen!

New Horizons website:

There are so many interesting sections on the website that it would be impractical to mention them all here, but as I use the material with my students in the autumn semester, I will be sharing my ideas on this blog.

One section I will focus on, however, is the Pluto in a Minute video series.


Despite the name, most videos are a bit longer than a minute, but only one is longer than 2 minutes (at 2:27). The narrator is Amy Shira Teitel, a member of the New Horizons team, who unfortunately speaks rather quickly. But the 21 topics focused on cover a wide range of information (in short bits) about Pluto and the New Horizons technology, so there are sure to be clips of interest to engineering students.

Some examples of the topics:
  • What is New Horizons going to do after Pluto?
  • How LORRI takes such phenomenal pictures
  • Dr. Brian May shows us how to really see Pluto
  • How did New Horizons phone home?
  • Meet New Horizons' science payload

The last one on the list is related to my February 2nd blog post, which focuses on the 7 instruments on the New Horizons spacecraft. Some interesting information mentioned in the short (1:33) video clip:
  • The payload is extremely lightweight. All 7 instruments combined weigh less than the camera on the Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn.
  • Very little power is used for the instruments. All 7 instruments functioning at the same time draw only 28 watts/second, which is half the power needed to illuminate a light bulb.

I'm looking forward to finding out next semester which topics my students want to learn more about, and which information they will find most intriguing. I hope they will be motivated to look through the New Horizons website and find a topic they would like to research further.

In my post next week I'll focus on a specific article from the website for language work related to describing Pluto's features.

No comments:

Post a Comment