Segments in this Video

Mission Pluto—Introduction (05:15)


Jason Silva describes New Horizons and the objective of the mission. He introduces the team's lead scientists; Hal Weaver, Fran Bagenal, Gabe Rogers, and Alan Stern. The New Horizons spacecraft has undergone a lengthy journey.

Fleeting Encounter (05:42)

The New Horizons spacecraft will pass Pluto at such high speeds that the encounter is brief. The team must work to ensure that everything works optimally during the window of transit. Cathy Olkin imagines what the surface of Pluto is like.

From Discovery to Exploration (03:32)

Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto; learn how the planet got its name. Stern talks about the early days of the space program and his commitment to exploring Pluto.

Balancing Act (04:41)

Silva provides a visual analogy to explain the distance between Pluto and Earth. Chris Hersman talks about the constrained development cycle for design and construction of the New Horizons spacecraft. The spacecraft must undergo a complicated dance during the flyby of Pluto.

Closing in on Pluto (05:15)

After 9.5 years in space, the New Horizons spacecraft hurtles toward Pluto at 32,000 mph. New Horizons carries an array of instruments that allows the scientists to collect a variety of data. Silva explains the orbital mechanics of the flyby.

Hitting the Target (02:46)

As late as 2012, the New Horizons team still does not know where Pluto will be located during the flyby. Buie speaks about working to understand Pluto's orbit better and the discovery of the Lampland plates which gave the team invaluable information.

No Longer a Planet (05:21)

The IAU's reclassification of Pluto as a dwarf planet caused an uproar. Silva reads a protest letter from a student to Neil deGrasse Tyson. Experts consider what makes a planet.

Moons and Rocks (04:54)

Space debris around Pluto threatens the New Horizons spacecraft. Buie talks about the satellites of Pluto: Charon, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos, and Styx. Kevin Walsh gives a demonstration of the ballistic impact that he theorizes may have created Pluto's moons.

Crisis Averted (03:56)

Days before the final encounter with Pluto, mission control loses contact with New Horizons; experts worked to reestablish the connection. The first detailed images of Pluto beam back to Earth. Weaver explains the idea of using the antenna as a debris shield.

Life's Work (02:46)

Silva speaks about the final approach and the culmination of years of work by the New Horizons team. The team gathers to receive the telemetry and data from the close flyby of Pluto. (Credits)

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Mission Pluto

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Three billion miles away a spacecraft speeds through the outer solar system at nearly 1,000 miles per minute. After nearly a decade in space it now has just 86 seconds to complete its primary mission: Discover a new world. Pluto.

Length: 45 minutes

Item#: BVL138036

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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