New Horizons Bearing Down on Jupiter

Artist impression of New Horizons with Jupiter. Image credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPLAlthough New Horizons’ main target is Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, it’ll have plenty of opportunities to do some science along the way. Next up, Jupiter. The spacecraft is now just a few weeks away from its closest approach to the gas giant, where it’ll capture some images but also receive a much needed speed boost.

New Horizons will reach Jupiter on February 28, 2007, passing as close as 2.3 million km away from the planet’s centre. Jupiter’s gravity will accelerate New Horizons towards Pluto, giving it an additional 14,500 km/h velocity. The stage will then be set for New Horizons to reach Pluto in 2015.

The spacecraft is expected to make 700 observations of Jupiter and its moons during the flyby. Both to help test the spacecraft’s scientific equipment as well as gather science data.

Good luck New Horizons!

Original Source: New Horizons update