These two pictures show how an artist thinks New Horizons will look at Jupiter. In one picture the Sun and the planets Mercury, Venus and Earth are to the left of the spacecraft. Jupiter is the right of the spacecraft, and Jupiter's icy moon Europa
is above New Horizons. In the other picture New Horizons is very close to Jupiter. Jupiter's moon Io
(which has volcanoes!) is in front of the giant planet.
Click on image for full size
Images courtesy NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.
New Horizons Flies By Jupiter in February 2007
The New Horizons spacecraft is on its way to Pluto. Along the way, it flew past the giant planet Jupiter. When the spacecraft flew
by Jupiter, Jupiter's strong gravity gave
New Horizons a "slingshot boost" in speed. The boost added 4 km/sec (9,000 mph) to the spacecraft's speed. That's quite a boost! The extra speed will make New Horizon's trip to Pluto take less time. Still, the spacecraft won't reach Pluto until 2015!
New Horizons blasted off in January 2006. It flew
by Jupiter on February 28, 2007. It was
going about 21 km/sec (47,000 mph) when it zoomed past Jupiter! But Pluto is very far away. Even at these high speeds, it will take New Horizons about nine years to go from Earth to Pluto.
New Horizons took some good pictures of Jupiter and gathered other data when New Horizons flew past the planet. The spacecraft has very good cameras and other instruments on board.
The New Horizons team also got to
practice a planetary flyby. When a spacecraft
flies past a planet, it needs to make a lot of complicated moves. It needs to
point its cameras the right way. It needs to turn instruments on and off at
the right times. And it needs to radio the data it collects back to Earth. The
New Horizons team got to practice all of this when the spacecraft flew
past Jupiter. Then they will be ready when New Horizons finally makes it to
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