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New Horizons and Pluto
After a voyage of nearly nine years and three billion miles, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft came out of hibernation on December 6, 2014. It took 4 hours and 26 minutes for New Horizons radio signal to reach NASA's Deep Space Network Station in Canberra, Australia.
The mission's primary objective is to explore Pluto and its many moons in 2015 with the closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015. The spacecraft is scheduled to begin observation of the Pluto system on Jan 15, 2015, using a seven-instrument science payload that includes advanced imaging infrared and ultraviolet spectrometers, a compact multicolor camera, a high-resolution telescopic camera, two powerful particle spectrometers and a space-dust detector. Until then the New Horizons team will spend the next several weeks checking out the spacecraft, making sure its systems and science instruments are operating properly. They'll also continue to build and test the computer-command sequences that will guide New Horizons through its flight to and reconnaissance of the Pluto system.
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Every year, Popular Science
publishes a list of 100 groundbreaking innovations in different fields; Aerospace, Auto, Engineering, Entertainment, Gadgets, Green, Hardware, Health, Home, Recreation, Security and Software. Among this year's amazing 100 are Deka "LUKE" Arm ( a bionic arm with amazing dexterity) and many more bionic limbs; the $25 Google Cardboard complete virtual reality; and the $80 DIY Belkin WeMo Maker adapter that allows you to retrofit intelligence onto any old device, even the doggie doors!
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NASA marked a major milestone Friday December 6, 2014 on its journey to Mars as the Orion spacecraft completed its first voyage to space, traveling farther than any spacecraft designed for astronauts has been in more than 40 years.
The spacecraft was tested in space to allow engineers to collect critical data to evaluate its performance and improve its design. The first mission by any spacecraft often turns up significant glitches. That was not the case this time though. The cone-shaped Orion held up to all the pressures of launch and ascent into orbit, then made two passes through the high radiation of the Van Allen belts before facing the searing plunge into Earth's atmosphere and splashing down under three billowing parachutes. During the uncrewed test, Orion reached an altitude of 3,600 miles above Earth and hit speeds of 20,000 mph and weathered temperatures approaching 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it entered Earth's atmosphere.
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