NASA eClips: New Horizons covers the distance
In 2006, NASA dispatched an ambassador to the planetary frontier. The New Horizons spacecraft is now halfway between Earth and Pluto, on approach for a dramatic flight past the icy planet and its moons in July 2015.
After 10 years and more than 3 billion miles, on a historic voyage that has already taken it over the storms and around the moons of Jupiter, New Horizons will shed light on new kinds of worlds we've only just discovered on the outskirts of the solar system.
Pluto gets closer by the day, and New Horizons continues into rare territory, as just the fifth probe to traverse interplanetary space so far from the Sun. And the first to travel so far, to reach a new planet for exploration.
Learn how scientists use astronomical units, or AUs, to measure large distances in space. Find out what scientists learned about Jupiter as the New Horizons spacecraft used the gravity of the planet to help it continue on its journey to Pluto.
Related Mathematics Problems
These problems provide a mathematical introduction to some of the issues related to spacecraft traveling across the solar system
Problem 157: Space Shuttle Launch Trajectory - Students use the parametric equation for the altitude and range for an actual Shuttle launch to determine the speed and acceleration of the Shuttle during launch and orbit insertion [Grade: 11-12 | Topics: Algebra; Calculus; Parametric Equations; Differentiation [Open PDF]
Problem 202: The Dawn Mission - Ion Rockets and Spiral Orbits- Students determine the shape of the trajectory taken by a spacecraft using a constant-thrust ion motor using differential and integral calculus for arc lengths. [Grade: 9-12| Topics: Calculus - Arc lengths.] [Open PDF]