New Horizons

  • Joint project between NASA and John Hopkins
  • Launched in 2006
  • Cost ~$700 million
  • Part of the New Frontiers mission
  • Launched by the Atlas V rocket
  • Fastest object launched from Earth


  • 5 month long flyby mission of Pluto and Charon
    • Lasted 6 months
  • First mission to ever reach Pluto



    • Long Range Reconnaissance Imager
    • Camera
    • Take pictures of Pluto
  • SWAP
    • Solar Winds Around Pluto
    • Electrostatic analyzer to measure solar winds
    • Pluto Energetic Spectrometer Science Investigation
    • Measured ions and electrons
    • Measure atmospheric decay
  • REX
    • Radio Science Experiment
    • Sends radio waves through an objects atmosphere
    • Detect and assess various characteristics of the atmosphere
  • Alice
    • Ultraviolet spectrometer
    • Photograph and analyze Pluto's atmosphere
    • Confirmed existence of a hydrogen wall
  • Ralph
    • Telescope
    • Two sub-instruments
      • LEISA
      • MVIC
    • Created by students from the University of Colorado
    • Collect and measure space dust

Mission Results

  • Pluto is geologically active
  • Pluto might have an ocean in the middle
  • Pluto and Charon may have had running water in the past
  • Charon may have had an ocean
  • Pluto's atmosphere is thin but not deteriorating as fast as originally thought

Space Astronomy Space Mission