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NASA New Horizons

Payload ready

19 Oct, 2005

New Horizons Payload-FULLThe payload of seven science instruments completes its last major preparations for flight.

Although the hard work on the instrument development and testing is over, the work never stops. We’ll only stop worrying once we’ve achieved full mission success, but we’re thrilled that the payload is ready for flight…The New Horizons payload is a remarkably compact, but powerful suite of instruments that will revolutionize our knowledge of Pluto, its large moon Charon and bodies farther out in the Kuiper Belt.

The instruments include:

Alice, an ultraviolet imaging spectrometer that will probe the atmospheric composition and structure of Pluto.

Ralph, a visible and infrared camera that will obtain high-resolution color maps and surface composition maps of the surfaces of Pluto and Charon.

LORRI, or Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, will image Pluto’s surface at football-field sized resolution, resolving features as small approximately 50 yards across.

SWAP, or Solar Wind Around Pluto, will measure charged particles from the solar wind near Pluto to determine whether it has a magnetosphere and how fast its atmosphere is escaping.

PEPSSI, or Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation, will search for neutral atoms that escape the planet’s atmosphere and subsequently become charged by their interaction with the solar wind.

SDC, or Student Dust Counter, will count and measure the masses of dust particles along the spacecraft’s entire trajectory, covering regions of interplanetary space never before sampled.

REX, or Radio Science EXperiment, a circuit board containing sophisticated electronics that has been integrated with the spacecraft’s radio telecommunications system, will study Pluto’s atmospheric structure, surface thermal properties, and make measurements of the mass of Pluto and Charon and KBOs.