New Horizons is a very fast spacecraft, but due to the size of the solar system, it will take a long time to get into interstellar space like Voyager 1 and 2. However, Voyager 1 launched in 1977, while New Horizons took off in 2006 and in nine years. managed to reach Pluto, which had meanwhile been reclassified from planet to dwarf planet. Pluto is nearly 30 astronomical units (AU, about 150 million km) away, with NASA now announcing that New Horizons has reached a distance of 50 AU.
The fifth probe ranked alongside both Voyagers and also the Pioneer 10 and 11 probes, which were the only ones that managed to get that far. NASA also celebrated this by taking a photo where we have a circled area and the Voyager 1 spacecraft is somewhere in it, as if it were perhaps being chased by New Horizon.
Even if New Horizon flew in the same direction, it would be in vain, even though it was moving away at a high speed of around 13 km / s. Thanks to a series of gravitational maneuvers, Voyager 1 has accelerated to 17 km / s, so not only does it have a time advantage, it is also faster, so New Horizon has no chance of catching up.
However, New Horizon is still in very good shape, relying on a source from its own radioisotope thermoelectric generator, which is supposed to last for many years to supply energy, until the late 1930s. NASA thus hopes to be able to visit another object in the Kuiper belt on the way out of the solar system, which is now being searched by powerful telescopes such as Japan’s Subaru. Nothing has been decided yet, but there is still plenty of time, and NASA, meanwhile, is going to upload new software to New Horizons this summer to improve its “scientific capabilities.”
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Source: Svět hardware by www.svethardware.cz.
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