Although Pluto has lost its planet status, it still forms the exciting destination of New Horizons spacecraft, which left Earth nine years back aiming to reach the dwarf planet, Pluto, of our solar system. It is more than 80 years ago when Pluto was discovered and since then very little information have been obtained about it. However, scientists at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland are now hoping to know more about Pluto by bringing the spacecraft out of hibernation on December 6. New Horizons is expected to encounter Pluto in July to reveal some more details about its composition, size, its moons and also about its thin atmosphere.
The speed of New Horizons exceeds than any spacecraft launched previously and to slingshot itself into far distances it used gravity of Jupiter. This also enhanced its speed by 20 percent and reduced the travel time by 3 1/2 years. But New Horizons still maintains a great distance from Pluto and it will possibly start transmitting information about it in January.
Pluto has a slow 248-year long orbit which further hinders the observation of the Pluto. It was discovered in 1930, and now it is almost halfway through its orbit of Sun. Mission manager Mark Holdridge stated “If we’re off by a certain amount, we could get a lot of black space. That would be very disappointing for everyone who has worked on this mission for the last 15 years.” For attaining the desired speed, the spacecraft has compromised with its telecommunication capabilities, which implies the spacecraft would take several weeks to deliver some of the in-depth data to Earth.